Today (Thursday) is the first day of the Tridium, the holy triad of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday, leading to Easter the day of resurrection. The word Maundy comes from the Latin Mandatum meaning law or mandate. The new mandate Jesus gives the apostles and us is that we love one another.
This new law is displayed in the unique liturgy of this night as Christians wash feet, bring for the hungry, eat an agape (love) meal and strip the altar. By ancient tradition food is brought on this night to be distributed to the poor. It is a token of the saying, “the fasts of the rich are the feasts of the poor.” It is also the privilege of the baptized to wash each other’s feet exercising the ministry of the towel as sign of their servant ministry. Tonight we eat a simple meal as the disciples ate with Jesus remembering the institution of the Eucharist. After singing a hymn we return to the Church stripping the altar and ornaments from the sanctuary (the area behind the altar rail).
In all these actions we remember – the word is “to remember with power “ the action happened in the past with the effect continuing in the present into the future. I invite you to stretch and participate in these acts whereby we affirm who we are as baptized members of the Body of Christ, the Church.
John W. Sewell