The Institutions of Redemption: Maundy Thursday
Ah, perennial texts! I had every intention of finishing my Lenten discipline with a tour through Triduum on the way to Easter. As it is, the past week I couldn't find the time to get through the Passion texts after the Palms, and I'll excuse myself from Good Friday and Holy Saturday on the notion that the Seven Last Words and the Great Vigil are a bit heavy. But at least the propers for Maundy Thursday will still be good next year! God bless my friends and colleagues in parish whose job it is to do three sermons this week, and then one on Sunday morning. This ethicist has quite enough to ponder wringing gospel out of the mandatum.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
And YHVH spoke to Moshe and Aharon in the land of Egypt, saying, "This moon is the first of your lunar calendar; it is the beginning of the months of your year. Speak to the whole assembly of Israel on the tenth day of this month, saying 'Let each man take a lamb for his father's house; one lamb per household. And, should a household have become too small for a lamb, it shall join with the household of its nearest neighbor in the headcount; let them take a lamb according to what each can eat. Your lambs should be whole, male, and one year old, and can be taken from either the sheep or the goats. You will keep your lambs until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole gathered assembly of Israel will slaughter them in the twilight, and will take the blood and place it on both doorposts and the lintel of each house in which they will eat it.'
They will eat the flesh on that night, roasted in the fire; they will eat it with sweet cakes and bitter herbs. Do not eat any of it raw, or sodden from boiling it in water, but only roasted in fire -- the whole thing, head, legs, and everything in between. Do not save any of it for the morning; anything left in the morning you shall burn in the fire. And you will eat it like this: with your belt tightened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; eat it in haste, because this is how YHVH spares you.
I will cross over the land of Egypt on that night, and I will smite every firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the people all the way down to the cattle. And I will pass judgment upon all of the gods of Egypt, because I am YHVH. The blood will be a marker of your presence upon the houses you are in, and I will see the blood and spare you. There will be no plague to destroy you when I smite the land of Egypt. That day will be for you a memorial, and you shall celebrate a festival to YHVH across your generations; celebrating it will be a perpetual custom."
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
I received from the Lord what I handed on to you: that the Lord Jesus, on the night when he was handed over, took bread and, after giving thanks, broke it and said "This is my body, which is for you; do this as a memorial for me." And likewise he took the cup after the meal, saying "This cup is the new covenant, made in my blood; do this, every time you drink it, as a memorial for me." And indeed, every time we eat this bread and drink this cup, we declaim the Lord's death, until he comes.
Before the festival of the Sparing [Pesach], since Jesus knew that the time had come for departure from this world to the Father, and having loved his own in this world, he loved them completely. Now, dinner was going on, and the Accuser had already put it into the heart of Judah, son of Shimon of Kerioth, that he would betray him; and Jesus knew that the Father had given everything into his hands, and that he came from God and would depart to God. So, putting aside his robe, he took a linen cloth and wrapped it around his waist. Next, he poured water into a basin and proceeded to wash the disciples' feet and wipe them dry with the linen cloth that was around his waist. When Jesus came to Shimon Peter, Peter said to him, "Are you going to wash my feet?" Jesus responded by saying to him, "You don't understand what I am doing just yet, but after this, you will know." Peter said to him, "You will never, ever wash my feet!" Jesus responded to him, "Unless I wash you, you have no share with me." Shimon Peter said to him, "Master, then not only my feet, but also my hands and my head!" Jesus said to him, "The one who has bathed has no use for washing, but is completely clean. And you are all clean, though not entirely." (You see, he knew who would betray him; for this reason, he said that they were not entirely clean.)
When he had washed their feet and put his robe on and reclined again, Jesus said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? You all call me 'Teacher' and 'Master,' and rightly so, because I am. Therefore if I have washed all of your feet -- your master and teacher -- you all are obliged to wash one another's feet. I have given you this example so that you shall do just as I have done. Quite honestly I tell you that the servant is not greater than his master, nor is the missionary greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, it will bless you to do them. I do not say about all of you that 'I know whom I have chosen,' but I say it so that the passage might be fulfilled: 'The one who eats bread with me has lifted his heel against me.' I say this to you right now, before it happens, so that when it happens you may trust that I am. And quite honestly I tell you that the one who receives anyone I may send receives me, and the one who receives me, receives the one who sent me."
After saying these things, Jesus was agitated in spirit, and he testified and said, "Quite honestly I tell you that one of you will betray me." Perplexed, the disciples looked to one other to see who he was talking about. One of his disciples was reclining by Jesus' lap -- the one Jesus loved -- and, leaning over toward him, Shimon Peter said to him, "Ask who it is that he's talking about." So, leaning back upon Jesus chest, he said to him, "Master, who is it?" Jesus responded, "It is the one for whom I will dip this morsel, and give it to him." Then, after dipping the morsel, he took it and gave it to Judah, son of Shimon of Kerioth. And after the morsel, then the Adversary entered into him. Then Jesus said to him, "What you are doing, do with haste." And none of those reclining at the table knew why he said this to him; indeed, some thought, because Judah had the purse, that Jesus said to him, "Buy some things we could use for the festival," or that he should give something to the poor. Then, after taking the morsel, Judah went out right away, while it was night. Then, after he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now the Son of Humanity has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in Godself, and will glorify him right away. Children, I am with you for only a little while longer; you will look for me, and, just as I said the the Judeans, "You are not able to go where I go," so I say to you for now. I give you a new commandment, so that you should love one another: Just as I have loved you, so you should also love one another. All will know that you are my disciples by this, as long as you have mutual love."