Questions for going deeper with the Scriptures for Thursday, April 21st
Questions for Maundy Thursday | Mark 14:12-72
Maundy Thursday”. The Maundy isn’t a misspelled Monday, but rather a derivative of the old French mandé and the Latin mandatum , both of which mean “commandment”. In this last night together, Jesus gathers with his friends to celebrate the Passover: the high holiday in which the Jews remembered the story of the Israelites slavery in Egypt [Mitzrayim in Hebrew] through a liturgical sharing of a meal. It’s together around a table that they re-enact their deliverance of the Israelites from the hand of Pharaoh. In doing so they don’t just remember, but they appropriate the story for today’s context, reflecting upon the meaning of freedom in terms of the mitzrayims that enslaves, distract and blind us today.
Jesus gives a final teaching, associating all that he is and how is with the meal that they share together. To love as he loves is a radical invitation. It’s something you can’t just put your mind to doing, not just a daily checklist. It requires true freedom: freedom from fear, from self-loathing, from jealousy and envy, in essence from the limits of the human condition. Like the freedom given to the Israelites in the Sea of Reeds, true love can only be known as a gift. Ironically it seems as though none of those friends seated at the table that night knows that gift, for they all wonder aloud if they are the traitor.
This text that begins with a communal experience of a community-making meal and the preaching of racial other-centered love through foot-washing, yet ends with a rapid scattering. The friendless Jesus, abandoned even by Peter, is left alone to drain the dregs of the pains of his arrest: isolation, wrath, condemnation, abandonment, failure. How is it that One that loved so deeply and radically, is left alone when he most needs solidarity?
The texts for today are the foundation for why we celebrate communion when we gather in the name of Jesus. We can’t just talk about love, we have to experience it. We can’t merely be reminded of what Jesus taught and did, we too have to participate in it. We don’t simply renact history, we recreate it for it’s our story too.
How and where do you most connect with God, or experience the love of Christ? What are the that enslave and distract you today in terms of living in the life-affirming freedom that God wants for us? How are you hungry for God’s presence, thirsty for God’s direction today?