Maundy Thursday (April, 2010)

posted May 19, 2015, 1:54 PM by San Jose Scottish Rite   [ updated May 19, 2015, 2:04 PM ]
Question: "What is Maundy Thursday?"
Answer: Maundy Thursday, also known as “Holy Thursday” is the Thursday of Passion Week, one day before Good Friday (the Thursday before Easter). Maundy Thursday is the name given to the day on which Jesus celebrated the Passover with His disciples, known as the Last Supper. Two important events are the focus of Maundy Thursday.
First, Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with His disciples and thereby instituted the Lord’s Supper, also called Communion (Luke 22:19-20). Some Christian churches observe a special Communion service on Maundy Thursday in memory of Jesus’ Last Supper with His disciples. Second, Jesus washed the disciples’ feet as an act of humility and service, thereby setting an example that we should love and serve one another in humility (John 13:3-17). Some Christian churches observe a foot-washing ceremony on Maundy Thursday to commemorate Jesus’ washing the feet of the disciples.
The word “Maundy” is derived from the Latin word for “command.” The “Maundy” in Maundy Thursday refers to the command Jesus gave to the disciples at the Last Supper, that they should love and serve one another. Should we observe Maundy Thursday? The Bible neither commands nor forbids it. It is a good thing to remember the Last Supper and Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf. It is a good thing to remember the Lord’s example of humility. However, at the same time, we should avoid ritualistic observances of holidays unless they are truly focused on God and our relationship with Him.
© Copyright 2002-2010 Got Questions Ministries.

Brethren of all faiths can participate in the Masonic observance of Maundy Thursday.
One of the most frequent images relevant to Maundy Thursday, observed by Christians in preparation for Easter, is Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper" picturing the last time Jesus of Nazareth gathered with his disciples. It is interesting to note the original is a fresco on a monastery wall in Milan, Italy. Made my mixing color, usually ground minerals, with wet plaster, the fresco, completed in 1498, took over six years to execute. This means it was started about the time Columbus sailed for America.
In Latin, maundy means commandment. It was during the Last Supper that Jesus of Nazareth gave his disciples an additional commandment, "to love one another as I have loved you." It is fitting we, as Masons, pause to reflect that almost 2,000 years ago this voice was silenced; yet the words of Jesus and their central teaching remain relevant today to all humankind. On what we now call Good Friday, the day after Maundy Thursday, Jesus was crucified and the world, according to tradition and symbolism, was plunged into darkness.
Masonry teaches us that man before being brought to light must endure darkness. Masons symbolize this on Maundy Thursday by extinguishing the lights one by one in memory of our departed Brethren. For two days following the crucifixion, the world remained spiritually in darkness until the dawn of the third day when a glorious light burst forth indicating the arrival of Easter and the risen Christ.
Similarly, the King James Version of the book of Genesis commences with "In the beginning." On the first day, God created the earth, and when He saw the earth was dark, He said, "Let there be light" and there was light. God was pleased. He saw the light was good. These passages indicate the importance of light from the very beginning.
The observance of Maundy Thursday was a custom in some form even before the Biblical account of that event. It seems the essence of this custom did not begin in either the Christian or Jewish cultures, but was probably of Hindu origin. Most certainly, it is governed by the vernal equinox when men rejoiced at the coming of spring, a time when the sun returns from the depth of winter to spread light and warmth over the earth, thus bringing forth new life in the budding of trees and the growth of grass and flowers.
The Jews celebrate Passover at this time, rejoicing over their escape under the guidance of Moses from Egyptian bondage. As death and sadness are part of the crucifixion, the exodus of the Jews from Egypt was not without tragedy and hardship. Only by strict observance of the Lord's instruction to place the blood of a paschal lamb on the entrance of their abodes, were the first-born of the Hebrews spared by the angel of death. Only after this trial and the exodus did God entrust Moses with the great light of the Ten Commandments.
The Christian ceremony of the Lord's Supper has a similarity with the Hebrew Passover, for it was at a Passover dinner that the Master and his disciples gathered in an upper room. It appears the disciples arrived at the table before Jesus, and he found them arguing among themselves as to who was the most important among them and who would, consequently, sit at his side. Disturbed, Jesus said, "I come as a light unto the world that whosoever believes in me should not abide in darkness. I give you a new commandment that you love one another as I have loved you."
Then he demonstrated what he meant by washing their feet, teaching them in this manner that no matter how important the person may be, he must be willing without hesitation to help another. To us as Masons, Maundy Thursday represents a time of deliverance. The guiding light brought to us from the upper room and the epic story of the exodus are assurances that light will prevail over darkness, freedom over tyranny, knowledge over ignorance, humility and charity over pride and self-interest.
On Easter morning, we reignite the lights in a noble ceremony and so renew our commitment as Masons of whatever faith to the basic doctrines that unite all humankind—faith, hope, and charity—ever mindful that when the heart beats the soul listens and God answers.