Maundy ThursdayJohn 13:1-15:
Before the festival day of the pasch, Jesus knowing that his hour was come, that he should pass out of this world to the Father: having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And when supper was done, (the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray him,) Knowing that the Father had given him all things into his hands, and that he came from God, and goeth to God; He riseth from supper, and layeth aside his garments, and having taken a towel, girded himself. After that, he putteth water into a basin, and began to wash the feet of the disciples, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. He cometh therefore to Simon Peter. And Peter saith to him: Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered, and said to him: What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith to him: Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him: If I wash thee not, thou shalt have no part with me. Simon Peter saith to him: Lord, not only my feet, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him: He that is washed, needeth not but to wash his feet, but is clean wholly. And you are clean, but not all.
For he knew who he was that would betray him; therefore he said: You are not all clean. Then after he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, being set down again, he said to them: Know you what I have done to you? You call me Master, and Lord; and you say well, for so I am. If then I being your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so you do also.
And whilst they were at supper, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke: and gave to his disciples, and said: Take ye, and eat. THIS IS MY BODY. And taking the chalice, he gave thanks, and gave to them, saying: Drink ye all of this. FOR THIS IS MY BLOOD of the new testament, which shall be shed for many unto remission of sins. And I say to you, I will not drink from henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I shall drink it with you new in the kingdom of my Father. And a hymn being said, they went out unto mount Olivet.
Tonight the Church commemorates the Last Supper, the night when Christ ate the Paschal feast for the last time with His disciples. Not only is this an important day because of that fact, but Christ gave the Church its essential nature on that night. It was on the night of the Last Supper that the Lord left the Eucharist to the Church. He left us His own Body and Blood under the auspices of bread and wine, that our sins may be forgiven, and that we may proclaim the Lord's death until He returns again in Glory. As a result of this, the apostolic priesthood came into being on the first Maundy Thursday.
While this night begins the celebration of Our Lord's passion, death, and resurrection, and that is the focal point of Christian belief, Jesus did something on that night that is meant to serve as an example to us in how we conduct our daily affairs. Jesus Christ-King of Kings and Lord of Lords stooped to the lowest level and washed the feet of lowly fishermen as a servant. As Christ did, so must we also do-not merely washing feet, but in acting as a servant.
This bears a special significance to those public officials who make a profession that they are servants of Christ-they must be a servant to others. In seeking to do what is right rather than what will gain them the acclaim of others, they may not have any roads or bridges named after them-but they will have a clean conscience at the Hour of Judgment.
As Christ ate the Passover with the Apostles, we recall the words of God to Moses that the Passover will be a remembrance and a day of festival for ever. (Exodus 12:1-14) Tonight we begin the celebration of the Passover anew-the Passover of the Lord from death to Life, and the mercy granted to all of us who believe. It is a memorial to us, and we keep it with "an everlasting observance."