Mandatum Makes it Mandatory

Foot washing at last supper

Duccio di Buoninsegna The Washing of Feet (1308 – 11)

I hate to begin the Triduum—the three days from Holy Thursday to Easter tracing the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ—with a criticism, but this is one of those predictable times of the year when the self-appointed “liturgy police” miss the point. For example . . .

First, let it be remembered that the foot-washing thing during Holy Thursday’s Mass of the Last Supper is an OPTION.  Many problems (and violations of law and good taste and common sense) could be avoided by choosing NOT to do it.  All manner of absurdities are inflicted on God’s people because of this option.

Yes, Father Z, it is an option, but it is an option that should be exercised in the correct way. To suggest, because of some abuses, that it should be moved to the Chrism Mass or dropped altogether seems to miss the point of Christ’s “mandatum” or mandate from which the common name Maundy Thursday derives.

I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. —John 13:34, NAB

Jesus has just washed his disciples feet, showing them in a dramatic fashion the self-denying love he wishes the disciples to show one another as well.

And though the foot-washing itself is not the commandment, it is an expression of that commandment and thus an option that should be exercised by the celebrant at the Holy Thursday Mass.

To question its inclusion is to question Christ, who washed his disciples feet at the Last Supper.

To question the inclusion of women is to question our Holy Father, Pope Francis, who included two women among the twelve juvenile prisoners whose feet he washed today at a private Holy Thursday Mass.

Yes, Father Z, you are correct in saying we should pay very close attention to what the prayer says.

But St. Paul was also correct when he wrote that “the letter brings death, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Corinthians 3:6).

So to you and to Dr. Peters and to the many others “gnat strainers” who think they’re more Catholic than the Pope and more Christian than Christ, I say to try and be a little less like Peter when he refuses his Lord’s request saying “You will never wash my feet,” and more like Peter’s successor who takes his Lord’s message to heart in humbling himself before the least among us knowing that they are Christ.

For as Christ told Peter “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.”

I pray that those who still don’t get it will eventually understand.

(Hat tip to Millennial Journal)

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s