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Today is the Thursday before Easter, the day we call Maundy Thursday. If you are like me, you have always wondered what “Maundy” means and what it has to do with Jesus. Today I learned what this word means, and that it has a lot to do with Jesus! It is actually quite profound.
“Maundy” is derived from the Latin word for “command,” “Mandatum.” Mandatum the first word of John 13:34 in the Latin Vulgate Bible. John 13:34 reads,
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
On the Thursday before Easter, Christ celebrated the Passover (also known as the Last Supper) with his disciples. He knew that later that night, Judas would betray Him, and in the next two days He would be given a trial, be flayed with bits of bone or glass tied to leather straps, be mocked and ridiculed, have a circle of briars jammed into his head, and finally be slain on an ingeniously torturous killing device with the agony of all the world’s sin on his shoulders. He did all of that for one reason: L O V E. He loves you. He loves me. He loves your annoying neighbor and that person who always tries to get your goat. And what isHis command? Love one another. Love them the same way I loved you. Love them enough to be willing to give up your life for them. Chances are, you will never have to give up your life for someone else. But in order to love someone enough to be willing to give them your life, you naturally have to be willing to give up lesser things; the best piece of pie, an afternoon in front of the TV, winning the argument. Your time, your plans, your dreams.
Today is Maundy Thursday. Command Thursday. The command is to love. Find a way to show Christ-like love today… and every day.
Today I am inspired by Francis of Assisi. I used to see St. Francis as the chubby monk statue that my grandma has in her garden… a man poor by choice who loved animals. That might be true, but there is so much more to him!
I recently read a Catholic book on the Crusades, called The Crusaders by Regine Pernoud, that my friend loaned to me. It was interesting because it was told from a very different perspective than secular and even Protestant history books. The Crusades surely is a multi-faceted subject filled with heroes and villains on both sides. It is so confusing and I really don’t know what stance to take on the subject! I came to a chapter on Francis of Assisi. In the middle of a bloody war against the Muslims, this brave man walked unarmed across Christian borders and into Muslim territory. He asked to be taken to the Sultan of Egypt. He was. This is a miracle for two reasons: firstly, because he was not killed on the spot, and secondly, because he was actually allowed to see the sultan. He witnessed to the Sultan, and the Sultan actually said that he would like to become a Christian, yet could not because of politics and fear of assassination (oh, how our human affairs cloud out the glow of eternity! It is tragic).In the darkness of warfare and bloodshed, St Francis was a shining example of how God wants us to deal with our enemies; with love and concern. This man risked his life to bring Christianity to the Muslims, while many of his fellow Christians were only interested in killing and fighting them over a single city.
Application: What in your life seems so important that you neglect what really is important? Are you fighting a personal “crusade” over your “Jerusalem?” In other words, are you so focused on something (even if it is something good) that you neglect to fulfill the Great Commission? Be a Francis of Assisi and not a Richard Coeur de Leon!
Olive Swan, an employee of AWANA, has written her first book, A New Creation. This is the story of Sean, a self-centered employer, who has a week to get a story on an embezzler by spending time with the embezzler’s daughter. Esmeralda is like no one he has ever met. He is attracted to her kindness, her resolve, and her forgiveness, but he can’t understand how anyone with her intelligence can really believe in a loving, almighty God. Sean has seven days to get the story. Essy has seven days to share the gospel with Sean. The result is quite interesting.