Maundy Thursday (Jn 13, 1-15)
“Jesus, having loved his own who were in the world, loved them to the end. ” The whole mission and life of Jesus of Nazareth are thus spoken with these words so simple and so strong, with which the Apostle John introduces the story of Jesus’ last meal.
The “Master” and “Lord” kneels before his disciples to wash their feet: by this gesture reserved for slaves and servants, Jesus reveals who God is. This gesture says first of all how great and respectable is the dignity of man for God. In Jesus, God puts himself at the level of a man to take care of him. In the Gospel of John, the washing of the feet takes the place of the account of the institution of the Eucharist. This tells us that this gesture is the founder of the Church. Besides, does not Jesus add: “You too must wash each other’s feet”, thus establishing the apostolic ministry as a ministry of service.
A few years ago, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, visiting Annaba, Algeria, seeing, in a corridor, near the kitchen, a little sister of the poor at the feet of an old Algerian man whom she was caring for, told me says: “Christophe, this is the Church. “ Church of Holy Thursday! Church thus founded in the gestures of Jesus Christ, those of the Last Supper and of Service. Church which, this evening, by repeating these gestures, invites each and every one of us to take the path of the Servant to love “In deed and in truth” those whom God still loves today to the end, to the last.