What is Maundy Thursday?
Where did the word Maundy come from and what does it mean?
What are the two most common traditions of Maundy Thursday?
These are questions that I wanted to answer as I prepared to write this week’s blog post.
As a Christian I knew that Maundy Thursday was the day before Good Friday, part of Holy Week ahead of Easter Sunday.
I didn’t, however, know the definition of Maundy or why it was used to describe Holy Thursday. I now know that it comes from the Latin word mandatum meaning command or commandment.
But what does command or commandment have to do with Holy Thursday?
The Thursday before Easter Sunday was the day of the Last Supper. This was part of the Passover and the last meal that Jesus would have with his disciples before his death. During the evening Jesus gave his disciples a new command to love one another.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” John 13:34
The type of love that Jesus was talking about is called Agape (Greek word for a particular type of love). Agape is not an emotional type of love but one of action where we are free to choose or reject. It is a spiritual love.
Jesus showed his disciples agape by example after their meal by washing the disciples’ feet. The washing of their feet was an act of service. The teacher or head of the group humbled himself to serve those who were following him.
Jesus also gave his disciples a commandment to remember him, his suffering on mankind’s behalf, his death and resurrection as he broke bread with them. The breaking of bread and drinking of wine as he instructed them is the basis of Holy Communion.
The two most common traditions that are recognized on Maundy Thursday come from that last supper. Those traditions are the taking of Holy Communion and the washing of each other’s feet.
Not all companies or businesses recognize Good Friday as a paid holiday and I suspect almost none recognize Maundy Thursday as such. But it is an important part of Holy Week leading up to Easter Sunday.
I would like to close this week’s blog post by wishing each of you an introspective, joyous Holy Weekend.