Below is a sonnet written for Maundy Thursday, by British poet Malcolm Guite.
Maundy Thursday is so called, from the latin word “Mandatum” meaning command. The way John tells it in his Gospel (chapter 13), Jesus met with his disciples for a last, loving supper, where he blessed and broke bread, and blessed and shared the cup. During that last supper, he bent to wash the feet of his disciples, which resulted then, as it does now, in a ‘conversation’ about the true nature of love. In his body, and actions, Jesus showed them/us that love is concerned for the other, love is often manifest in acts of generous, compassionate service – like soothing clean the dusty feet. In case we missed the significance of his embodied, sensory, teaching, Jesus also said (13:34) “A new commandment I give you; that you love one another, just as I have loved you.”
In many traditions, a rite of footwashing is observed on “Commandment Thursday” so that we can experience in our own flesh what it might mean for us to love the world, and those close to us, “just as” Jesus has loved us.
Now, sit for a while with Malcolm Guite’s poem….
Here is the source of every sacrament,
The all-transforming presence of the Lord,
Replenishing our every element
Remaking us in his creative Word.
For here the earth herself gives bread and wine,
The air delights to bear his Spirit’s speech,
The fire dances where the candles shine,
The waters cleanse us with His gentle touch.
And here He shows the full extent of love
To us whose love is always incomplete,
In vain we search the heavens high above,
The God of love is kneeling at our feet.
Though we betray Him, though it is the night.
He meets us here and loves us into light.