Jesus shares the final meal with his disciples. Soon he will be arrested, and those who oppose him will dictate his remaining hours, except for his response. The new commandment he offers: “Love one another as I have loved you,” compels him to continue the pathway of redemption.
He demonstrates his love by the humble act of washing feet, a task usually reserved for a low status servant. Tradition tells us that Moses only saw the back of God when sheltered in the cleft of the rock. As Jesus circled the room with towel and basin, the back of God was seen again, in its abject humility.
One wonders how the arc of the story would have shifted if Jesus had found a way to cooperate with the religious and political powers. If he had backed away from his identity with God, would his fate be different? Most likely, but there would be no story of self-emptying for the sake of those estranged from God.
So today on Maundy Thursday, we reflect on his commandment and seek to serve others in the power of his love. That way his story can become more nearly ours.
Molly T. Marshall