Maundy Thursday 2020

We hear this narrative yearly, at least. We hear it alluded to more often than that: ‘On the night that he was betrayed…’ But we hear it from different perspectives. This is the first time I’ve heard it during a pandemic. What does this do to my hearing of this story?

It emphasizes our agnosticism toward the future. Most of us didn’t know we’d be in this situation on April 9th, 2020. While there were a few people who could make decision that could’ve impacted the trajectory of this pandemic (see ‘South Korea’) most of us aren’t those people. We can respond only to the world as it unfolds before us.

This experience highlights the disciples place in the Maundy Thursday tradition. Jesus seems to have expected something. Each Evangelist gives Jesus more or less of an understanding of his fate. But in the Gospels, his disciples seems uniformly unaware. Tragedy is coming. They don’t know it. They can do nothing to stop it.

This night the disciples will be shown their inability to control things. This night most of us recognize this helplessness in ourselves. We’d like to be the masters of our destinies but we’re not. Personally, this Maundy Thursday preaches that message as loud and as clear as it ever could.

But there’s one thing we can control. Jesus commands us to do so. We’re told to love one another and he loves us. In our powerlessness, we can do something powerful; we’re commanded to do something powerful: love one another. We see this in the work of our medical professionals but they’re not alone. We can all contribute in some way for we can all love in some way.

Maundy Thursday icon of Jesus washing the feet of St. Peter

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