From the Latin mandatum novum, which means “a new commandment” comes the term “Maundy”. The great commandment, Jesus already taught us, is to love God with all our heart and mind and will, and our neighbor as ourselves.
Maundy Thursday is the Church’s celebration of Jesus’ last night, when he gave a new commandment: not only are we to love each other as we love ourselves, but that we are to love each other as Jesus has loved us. Interestingly, it is not a “new” commandment, but a crafty summary of the 10 Commandments.
This was also the night he is betrayed by one who loved him, and also the night the Last Supper is instituted. The bread is taken, blessed, broken, and given, reminiscent of the feeding of the multitudes. Jesus came to this earth to feed to masses, and he continues that trajectory, declaring that his body will continue to feed them in his absence, and that, “…I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” The table becomes a place of future reassurances.
In that sense, the table becomes the new commandment, so maybe that is where Maundy comes from. We learn that our ministry is to continue in his name, that he will continue to be at table with us, and that part of our ministry is going to involve feeding others.
We learn that service and humility are wrapped up in remembrance, and that it is not merely a Passover remembrance anymore, but a remembrance that takes us back to Jesus’ last night on earth. The meal is one of death as well as reassurance of new life.
May your Maundy Thursday be filled with Eucharistic hope as we turn our hearts and minds to these most sacred events of the Christian year. You are welcome to come to a couple table opportunities tonight, at the Manna in the Wilderness Guided Labyrinth Walk at 5pm or Maundy Thursday Communion served between 5:30pm-7:30pm (approx. 15 minutes of liturgy).