Many people not in Catholicism or familiar with may ask today, “What is Maundy Thursday?” Maundy Thursday is the day before Good Friday. That is the short answer.
Maundy Thursday (also known as Holy Thursday, Covenant Thursday, Great and Holy Thursday, Sheer Thursday and Thursday of Mysteries) is the Christian feast, or holy day, falling on the Thursday before Easter. It commemorates the Maundy and Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles as described in the Canonical gospels. It is the fifth day of Holy Week, and is preceded by Spy Wednesday and followed by Good Friday.
This day, Maundy Thursday (also “Holy Thursday” or “Shire Thursday”) commemorates Christ’s Last Supper and the initiation of the Eucharist [Lord’s Supper or Communion]. Its name of “Maundy” comes from the Latin word mandatum, meaning “command.” This stems from Christ’s words in John 13:34, “A new commandment I give unto you.” It is the first of the three days known as the “Triduum,” and after the Vigil tonight, and until the Vigil of Easter, a more profoundly somber attitude prevails (most especially during the hours between Noon and 3:00 PM on Good Friday). Raucous amusements should be set aside.
What struck me from this last paragraph was the sentence “Raucous amusements should be set aside.”
Passion Week is a week overlooked by many in favor of Easter. While there is no doubt the resurrection trumps the last supper for eternal value, that supper, if it teaches us anything, teaches us the power of remembrance.
Today is Maundy Thursday, a day of remembrance. Perhaps we should set aside frivolity for a time, reflect on what the last supper meant to Christ, to His disciples and to us. This weekend again brings to our attention the victory of Christ over the grave. He secured the possibility of forgiveness at the cross and the reality of eternal life at the resurrection.
We also do well to reflect on John 13:34, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love another. Just as I have loved you, you should love one another.” How well is that going for us? Good Friday is tomorrow, the grave is Saturday, and Easter is Sunday. Remember. And love.