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Christianity, a religion that bases itself on the teachings of Jesus Christ, has the most participants with a whopping estimate of two billion followers.
Christians sort themselves into different branches. There are Protestants, Eastern Orthodox Christians, and Roman Catholics. They all share the same holy book – the Bible.
Aside from the Bible, all three branches have the same religious holidays. One of these festivals is Maundy Thursday, or Holy Thursday. This is the Thursday before Easter, which commemorates the fact that Jesus Christ introduced the Eucharist during the Last Supper.
Easter has many important dates which Christians celebrate. In the case of Maundy Thursday, it’s the final day before Easter starts on Friday. There are some specific traditions that Christians practice to honor it.
In this article, you’ll learn about Maundy Thursday and what makes it important.
What’s Maundy Thursday?
Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday commemorates Jesus Christ’s celebration of his final Passover during the Last Supper, which he had with his disciples. During this meal, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and instructed them to do the same for one another.
“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so, he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. …When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.”John 13:2-14
It is after this that Jesus gives his disciples a new, and most important, commandment of them all.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”John 13:34-35
This new mandate is what Christians believe gives Maundy Thursday its name. The word for “command” in Latin is “mandatum,” and people believe that “Maundy” is a shortened form of the Latin term.
The story behind Maundy Thursday occurs during the Thursday of Jesus’ last week before his crucifixion and subsequent resurrection. His command to his disciples was: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”
A New Commandment – To Love One Another
Jesus Christ’s commandment to his disciples after washing their feet materializes into words the meaning behind his actions. He gave love new importance and meaning because it didn’t matter who anyone was or what they had done, Jesus loved them.
By washing the feet of his disciples, he demonstrated that we should treat everyone equally, with compassion, empathy, and love. He also showed that humility is an important trait. Jesus was not too proud or arrogant to stoop down to the position of washing the feet of those of a lower rank than him.
So, his commandment shows Christians that they must always have love as a driving force. Even when someone might seem to not deserve it, you should show them mercy and free them of judgment.
This offers everyone and anyone salvation, which grants protection, strength, and motivation for those who believe that God and Jesus bring salvation to earth despite humanity’s shortcomings and sins.
As a consequence, it’s important for Christians to use Maundy Thursday not only to commemorate Jesus’ actions but also to reflect on his sacrifice and his commandment. He died so that we could be kinder to each other.
The Garden of Gethsemane
During the Last Supper, Jesus shared his bread with his disciples and passed around a cup of wine which he made from water, a symbol of his sacrifice. After this, he went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray anxiously to God while struggling to accept his fate.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, a mob led by Jesus Christ’s disciple Judas arrests him. Jesus had predicted that one of his disciples would betray him, and so it happened. Unfortunately, after this arrest, Jesus was tried and unjustly sentenced to death.
Maundy Thursday and Communion
Communion is the Christian ceremony at which bread and wine are consecrated and shared. Usually, people who go to mass receive communion from the priest toward the end of it. This part of the ceremony commemorates Jesus sharing his bread at the Last Supper.
It helps Christians remember Jesus’ sacrifices, his love, and his desire for everyone to be saved from their sins despite their flaws. It’s also a representation of the unity that Christians have with the Church and how important it is to maintain it.
How Do Christians Observe Maundy Thursday?
Generally, Christian churches commemorate Maundy Thursday by holding a communion mass and a ceremony where the washing of the feet is enacted to commemorate the same action that Jesus did during the Last Supper.
There are also particular practices where penitents will receive a branch as a symbol of their completion of the Lenten penance. This ritual has given Maundy Thursday the name of Green Thursday in Germany.
Another tradition some churches will follow during Holy Thursday is the washing of the altar during a ceremony, which is why Maundy Thursday is also known as Sheer Thursday. However, most Churches will follow the same customs during this day.
When it comes to food, most Christians avoid eating red and white meat prior to, during and after Easter, so Christians will adhere to this custom during Maundy Thursday too. Aside from this, it’s customary to go to Church during this holiday.
Maundy Thursday is a reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice and of his infinite love for everyone. His commandment to love one another is one that everyone should have in mind whenever they do any kind of action. Love is the origin of mercy and salvation.