“Maundy” is derived from the Latin “mandatum novum” — “new commandment” — via the French “mande” (from which we get words like “mandate” and “command”), referring to Jesus’ new commandment to his disciples: “Love one another, as I have loved you.”
After work last night, I stood at Dupont Circle, the north Metro entrance on my left and Massachussets Ave leading to church on my right, and I wondered if I should go to the special Maundy Thursday worship service.
I’m tired and sleepy and listless and cranky and I really don’t feel much like going to church, I thought to myself. Which, I responded to myself, is all the more reason I should go.
So I went, and I did not regret it. There was a fellowship dinner, followed by a communion service. Weeks of on-and-off lethargy, worldly worry, and spiritual neglect faded before the simple, familiar words: “This is my body, broken for you. This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
Ah, that God loves us, despite our doubt, our warring desires; that he still gave his body and spilled his blood though we would fail him in body and spirit again and again; that he willingly went to the cross even for those who would mock him in word and deed through the centuries. Only God could give us such love, to make us, who behave so unworthily, worthy in his sight. And if he then commands us — gives us that mandatum novum — to love others with that same unconditional, sacrificial love he gave us, we know he makes able those who obey.
Lord, make us able.