Passover: Remembering the Exodus to interpret the Present
The Command to Serve
Jesus and his disciples gather together for a holiday meal, probably Passover the holiday meal that serves as a dinner service to remember and retell the Exodus from slavery in Egypt as the foundational narrative through which to interpret the present. Jesus has his own interpretive take on it opening it to focus on a new commandment (maundautum in Latin – from whence comes the term “Maundy Thursday”): love one another as I have loved you. This love mandate is expressed and experienced through prophetic gestures: feet washing, sharing a refocused meal of bread and wine, a radical honesty about relationship, community and individual freedoms to act. Jesus teaches one more time that following him is more than ascribing to a conviction or set of beliefs, it’s more about prophetically and authentically taking up his example, living as he lived, choosing service over power, choosing love even in the most simple things of life, walking in his Way of truth and life.
Jean Vanier, the founder of the international L’Arche community, which lives out this mandate of radical love and authentic service. In the United States, l’Arche communities provide homes and workplaces where people with and without intellectual disabilities live and work together as peers; create inclusive communities of faith and friendship; and transform society through relationships that cross social boundaries.
To wash the feet of a brother or sister in Christ, to allow someone to wash our feet, is a sign that together we want to follow Jesus to take the downward path, to find Jesus’ presence in the poor and the weak. Is it not a sign that we too want to live a heart-to-heart relationship with others, to meet them as a person and a friend, and to live in communion with them? Is it not a sign that we yearn to be men and women of forgiveness, to be healed and cleansed and to heal and cleanse others and thus to live more fully in communion with Jesus?
Questions for Active Reflection:
- What attracts you to the Way of Jesus? How have you seen and heard Jesus through other disciples who have loved you in this radical way that Vanier calls the downward path?
- How have you experienced and felt the presence of God in Jesus when you have walked this way, loving and living the downward path: choosing service over power, love over everything else? Meditate on that, giving thanks to God for that experience. How is it pulling you in the Way of Jesus today?
- How is God calling you to live the downward path of love and service today? Where? In what relationships are you being called to change your outlook, action, reactions, role in order to follow this commandment to love as Christ first loves us?