Maundy Thursday Homily
Grace, mercy, and peace to you, from God our Creator, and our Lord Jesus Christ who gave his life for us. Amen.
Jesus knew his last hours were coming. What would you do if you knew you would die tomorrow? You would certainly want to share things that would be remembered after you were gone. You would want to share the most important things you had to share. You would say they things that you needed to say to everyone. You wouldn’t hold back. You would tell people how much you loved them.
Tonight is Maundy Thursday. We have begun the Great Three Days. Tonight we hear what Jesus wanted to share with us on his last evening with us.
We have heard the words of forgiveness. We felt the power as we felt the hands touch our heads. We smell the scent of myrrh and frankincense in the olive oil. We know we are forgiven. We felt it and we can smell it.
In a few minutes, we will relive the washing of feet, the sign that Christ calls us to serve each other. We will feel the warm water and the softness of the towel.
We heard the gospel message that Jesus wants us to be like him and serve those most in need. We heard him say that whenever we serve others, we serve him.
Then, we will share the meal Jesus gave us on the last night of his life on earth. We will eat the bread, dipping it in the cup as the disciples did. We will taste the unleavened bread and the sweetness of the wine.
On the last night of his life, Jesus chose to have dinner with his friends. At that meal he took the bread, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to them saying, “This is my body, given for you.”
All these ritual actions have something important in common. Jesus says they are done “for you.” Did you hear that, “for you?”
The bread and wine, the very body and blood of Christ, was shared with Judas, who betrayed him. It was shared with Peter who denied him three times. It was shared with all the other disciples who ran away that night, deserting him.
If it was for them, then it is certainly also for us. We have run away at times. We have denied and betrayed Jesus in our words and actions. We are the disciples who dip the bread in Jesus’ cup.
Sometimes we have questions about why things happen the way they do in this life. We may wonder, “Why me, Lord?”
We may not get good answers to the question, “why?” this side of heaven. But we do have a clear answer from Jesus to the question he felt was most important that last night of his life.
Jesus answers the deeper, far more important question than “why?” He answers the question, “For whom?” For whom does he willingly suffer humiliation and pain? For whom does he willingly die? Jesus answers that question clearly and strongly.
Jesus says he did it all for us. He did it all for us that we might have light and life and hope in his name.
We relive the actions tonight to remember. Jesus has given us these rituals as a gift from the last night he was on earth with us. We experience with all our human senses because the human Jesus was the God who became one of us.
We do these things tonight because Jesus Christ is the Son of God who suffered and died for us. Amen.