Maundy Thursday. Also known as Holy Thursday, Covenant Thursday, Great and Holy Thursday, Sheer Thursday, and Thursday of Mysteries (loving this last one – because isn’t God’s love SUCH a mystery?).
The word maundy comes from the Latin, mandatum, which means command. As in John 13:34-35: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Oy, love can be hard!
Sometimes, it feels like too much. Too much to ask.
I’m wrestling with God this Maundy Thursday. Someone has hurt one of my cubs and this Mama Bear wants to take them down. (In my honor, please read that with a deep, booming, fantastic God-like voice: your favorite Batman, or Morgan Freeman, even Arnold in Terminator…)
How to respond graciously when I don’t want to? Sure, decorum works most effectively, but I want to kill with kindness. Really, I want the kill. Sigh…
I know what today is: a solemn day, an important day for Christ-followers. My One Year Bible doesn’t know that this particular calendar year has landed MT for March 24th. So I sit down with my Bible, knowing I need a heavy dose of God right now, and read this:
Am I willing to listen? The command isn’t just to love, but to love my enemies! Loving my guys is easy. But to love, do good, bless, and pray for my hateful, hurtful, cursing enemies…YIKES!
Therein lies the rub. The true command of John 13:34 is to love like Jesus loved. How did Jesus love? He didn’t say a word in His own defense. He sacrificed His life. He loved with such a costly love that He gave everything He had. And because He loved us SO much, He died to save every single one of His undeserving, unloving, hateful, hurting, cursing enemies who would recognize their own sin and say YES! to His overflowing love.
Jesus said yes to me before I could even attempt to deserve His love (not that I ever could, try as I might). And now it’s my job, as His follower, to say a loving yes to others who don’t deserve it.
I don’t want to. And I still do need to seek justice for my hurting cub. Love doesn’t negate consequences. But God’s love calls me to a standard I can’t, won’t, achieve on my own.
So I ask for God’s love to fill me. To forgive my sins as I forgive those who sin against me (and my cub). I ask God for the willingness to listen, to love, to forgive, to do good, to bless, and to pray – even when that’s the last thing I want to do.
Because, I’m pretty sure, Jesus didn’t want to die on the cross, and yet He prayed: “…not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39).
One of my favorite poets, George Herbert, writes of this mystery: