Friday, April 6, 2012

Homily for Maundy Thursday

For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.

We have begun the Great Three Days.
And here we are, in the upper room.
This evening where Jesus shares his final meal with the disciples.
This evening where Jesus washes the disciples feet.
On this evening Jesus shows us what it means to serve, and also, he teaches us how to accept being served.

Jesus shows the disciples what dignity there is in the Kingdom of God by serving them in the most menial way he could.

He is possessed by a special sense of his divine commission and authority. And how does he express this? Does he ask for a throne to be placed in the middle of the room? Does he ask for a crown?
He got up from the table,
took off his outer robe,
and tied a towel around himself.

Then he poured water into a basin
and began to wash the disciples' feet
and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.

We shrink from this.
We are ok with being humble before God.

We don’t want him to be humble in his dealings with us.

We want him to be glorious.
We want to be in that presence,
but when we are we may sometimes think we are entitled to pride ourselves on that achievement,
We may begin to think we might be better than others.

But, the worship of Jesus makes a nonsense of such ideas.
The worship of baby for whom there was no room at the inn.
The worship of jesus who humbles himself to kneel and wash feet.

If worship is genuine, any sense of pride is eliminated. Jesus who we worship is humility incarnate.

This divine humility shows itself in service.  As Jesus says “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve,”

But our humility doesn’t come from serving, but rather our willingness to be served.

There can be much pride and condescension in our serving.
It is only really true when it is spontaneous and comes from a place of love.
Any offer we do that is planned or forced is flawed and comes from our own will,
rather from that of God.
We are doing our work, not God’s.
It is self centred not God centred.

It is difficult to show our humility in our service.

Our humility will come from our willingness to be served by others, and by God.
To accept be served by someone is to admit dependence on them. The desire to not owe someone, or to be beholden to them is ultimately unchristian. It is as unchristian as to take all and offer nothing.
 As Jesus loved the disciples, we are to love each other. Also, we are also to accept that love. That is in many ways more difficult. It is difficult sometimes for us to let someone do something for us. It is difficult because we are proud. We like to think we can do on our own. Our sense of self is diminished when we feel we need help. Our sense of who we are can crumble when we can’t accomplish something we need to do, or something we used to be able to do.

To let others serve us is to show great humility. As Jesus showed divine humility by washing the disciples feet, we can show our human humility by allowing others to serve us. To allow ourselves to be vulnerable and admit that we sometimes need help. To admit there are things we can’t. As Jesus served the disciples, we are to serve those around us. And as the disciples accepted that service, we are also to accept being served.

Love is not a one way street. To love one another means also accepting love from one another. It is sometimes hard for us to believe that someone else may love us for who we are.
Jesus loves us for who we are.
He asks us to love one another, and he also asks us to allow ourselves to be loved by one another.

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