The Meaning of "Maundy"

Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last Supper”

Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last Supper”

Have you ever wondered what the “maundy” in Maundy Thursday means? It seems at some point someone decided to anglicize the Latin mandatum, meaning “mandate” or “commandment”.

This is a reference to what is commonly called Jesus’ “last supper” with his closest diciples (a traditional Jewish Passover celebration), in which, according to the apostle and gospel writer John, Jesus washed the feet of these, his closest friends on earth. After doing so, John writes, Jesus spoke these words:

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another." (John 13:34)

Whether you are a practicing Christian or not, I think this is something we can agree on — when doctrine, belief systems, theological or political debates are over, one question remains: how well do we love each other? If this were our primary goal in life — to love well — how different would life on this planet look?

This Maundy Thursday, I am reminded to allow everything else to be stripped away, down to that one question: how well do I love? I somehow believe this is my main mission while I’m on this ball of dirt. Many questions remain, yes, but they’re not going anywhere.

In the meantime, let us love one another.