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Maundy Thursday: God is Love

Maundy Thursday – John 13:1-17, 31b-35

Yesterday in reflecting on the actions of Judas, I suggested that times of crisis often create misunderstanding and mistakes which lead to division and disagreement – undoubtedly Judas got it wrong and part of yesterday’s Gospel reading is included again today: “when Judas had gone out, Jesus said, Now the Son of Man has been glorified and God has been glorified in him.” For John, that glory is to be fully revealed, paradoxically, on the cross – “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” John 12:32. Incidentally, that verse is reflected in St Mary’s own declaration that it is “A house of peace and prayer for all people.” Today, that glory is prefigured in Jesus’ example of service, the washing of his disciples’ feet, a dramatic representation of his “new commandment”, “that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” 13:34-35 St Mark reports the same truth in a different manner: “The Son Man came not be served but to serve and give his life a ransom for many.” Mark 10.45

Times of crisis are also moments when true and real humanity is revealed in countless act of service for those less fortunate. The Government target in recruiting a quarter of a million volunteers to assist in caring for the most vulnerable has been exceeded three-fold. The stories and sight of so many in our hospitals and many more identified as the most vulnerable touches a deep human chord which binds us together and evokes an empathy which issues in selfless and self-giving service to those most in need. Yes, of course, there will be those who take advantage, who play the system, who cheat on the charity – the story of the cross remains one of inhuman sinfulness as well as deeply human self-giving love, but today let us rejoice in the truly human as revealed in Jesus Christ.

The traditional anthem as the priest washes the feet of the congregation in this service, in more normal circumstances than the ones we find ourselves in this year, is “Ubi caritas et amor, deus ibi est” “Where love and charity are found, there God is”. St John affirms in his first letter: Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.” 1 John 4:7,16 God is the origin and source of love; every act of love is an act of God – it is the reflection of his image in which every soul is created. In this week in which we are reflecting upon the ultimate revelation of God’s love on the cross let also affirm that every act of love toward another is a revelation of God’s love. God acts in and through each of us and when he does our humanity becomes more fully focused – we become more human by more fully revealing that which is divine.

The coronavirus pandemic is nothing but utterly horrific, every aspect our lives is undermined and, to some extent, threatened but the acts of charity that are being evoked are nothing short of the revelation of God’s love and a witness to our common humanity, our identity are fellow creatures made in the image of God, the God who is love and the God commands us to love one another.

Maundy money as distributed by the Queen each Maundy Thursday as a "symbol" of the monarch washing the feet of those "in need".

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