Do this in Remembrance of Me

When Pope Francis issued a decree revising the rules for the traditional foot-washing ritual on Maundy Thursday, saying the rite should also include women and young girls, I was surprised and yet not entirely taken aback as Pope Francis’ papacy was already touching hearts and minds in so many ways. Together with a few women and children, I was blessed to take part in the foot-washing ritual at Church of St Michael (CSM). This humble act of a priest kneeling to wash my feet made me feel humbler yet. Looking back, the vision of Jesus doing the same to his apostles and to me was very emotional, and I remember how my tears fell uncontrollably.

Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday

The Thursday before Easter and that which is part of the Holy Week. Two thousand years ago, Christ shared his Passover feast with his disciples, knowing that He was about to fulfil his role as the final sacrifice to save us all.

But Christ’s plan for the evening was not just centred on showing his disciples the humility of service, that evening he gave us three gifts: a New Commandment, the Eucharist, and the Priesthood. It is a sacred banquet where our Lord teaches, feeds, washes and prepares all of us for the eternal banquet in heaven.

Mandatum (Maundy) = Commandment

While washing the feet of his disciples, Jesus gave his disciples and us a new commandment, as recorded in John 13:34-35. “And now I give you a new commandment: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples.”

Pope Francis also reminds us that, “Love isn’t words, but works and service, a humble service, performed in silence and in a humble manner as Jesus himself said: ‘Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing’”

Institution of Holy Orders

At the Last Supper, Christ gives his disciples commands that would be carried out through the ages. After washing their feet, he says “I have set an example for you, so that you will do just what I have done’ (John 13:15). Christ took bread and wine and told his disciples to eat and drink; these were his body and blood, given for the forgiveness of sins. “Do this in memory of me” (Luke 22:19). In the Old Testament, when Peter objects to having his feet washed, Christ replies: “Unless I wash you, you have no part in me” (John 13:8).  In washing their feet, Christ shares his priesthood with the disciples.

A Good Start

Palm Sunday is the beginning of Holy week, and Holy Thursday evening is technically the end of Lent and the start of the Sacred Tridium. At CSM, we will be having our Memorial Meal, followed by the 9pm Evening Eucharistic Celebration of the Lord’s Supper. As Fr Terence has mentioned, you would be able to wash the feet and ask forgiveness from loved ones and friends, and whomsoever you choose to invite. Every one of us who follows Christ are called to be servants, to wash each others’ feet. My tip? Get ready your handkerchiefs and tissues.

By Karen Roberts-Fong