John 13:1-17, 34 Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him… After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet… So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.”
Philippians 2:5-7 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave u his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave.
Maundy Thursday got its name from this new commandment, or mandatum, Jesus gave to his disciples at this last dinner with them. Don’t just love your neighbor; love each other as Jesus did. He knew as he spoke that he would soon offer his life for them.
This reminder comes at a time we may all be feeling some degree of compassion fatigue (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compassion_fatigue) from the ongoing battle with Covid. Right now, South America and Europe are being hit hardest. Some of those who are suffering and dying include people we know and love. Hundreds of pastors have died across Latin America, giving all they can for their people where medical care is unavailable or inadequate.
In some places such as Venezuela, where the health system is broken, God seems to be performing miracles. In hard hit San Cristóbal, for example, though many people in Otto and Idagly’s church have gotten very sick, not a single person has died of Covid. “We pray and we do what we can, mostly caring for the families of the ill ones,” Idagly told me. “There are no medical resources, yet God keeps bringing people back. We’re careful, but it does seem God is honoring our care for one another. Death is not the ultimate enemy. The enemy is fear.”
She laughs. “When every resource is scarce—food, clean water, transportation, etc.—we focus not on what we can’t control but on what we can. We invest in love and trust, in worship and celebration of God’s faithfulness. We’ll all die one way or another. The question is, what will be the quality of our living? We can choose joy, no matter what.”
I’m encouraged to get up from the table. To serve however I can today. One day at a time.