Our thanks to Brendan Armitage for this week’s devotion!
A few Thursdays ago was Maundy Thursday, or Holy Thursday as it is to some. It’s called Maundy in our tradition from the Latin mandatum. Mandatum means “something commanded”, and comes from the Latin noun for “hand”, manus and the Latin verb “to give”, dare. So, it’s personal. It’s given to you and to me by the very hand of Jesus. In Latin, it’s Mandatum novum do vobis or “A new commandment I give to you”. That mandatum that Jesus made on Holy Thursday was (in Latin) ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos “Love one another”. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34).
“Love one another.” Full stop. Love everyone. It’s an affirmative statement given to us by Jesus. We are not to fear. We are not to hate. (What have we to fear? We are soon to be given everlasting life.) And He completes the thought with the refining corollary: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another”. Focus on the word “must”. (It’s not a suggestion.). In this mandatum, there is the Law (must) and the Gospel (love).
Jesus knew on Thursday that he was going to die. While we don’t know the day and time of our removal from this world, we know our days are numbered. Take a moment as you read this, maybe even a day as you ponder your place in our church, in our county, on this earth; with this mandatum, delivered by hand from Jesus: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” ringing in your mind from Holy Week. Are you living out your life with that personal command? Are you loving everyone everywhere as Jesus has loved you? Have you hardened your heart against anyone in this 7.7 billion person world of ours?
As persons of faith, we know we should acknowledge our sin. So, this week, keep that phrase in mind as you pay attention to the news or your Facebook or your email. Pray for your own healing from hate. Pray for your faith to be first in your life above all else. Pray for love to enter your mind and fill your heart, so that you may live Jesus’ mandatum from Maundy Thursday. Jesus tells us that love is the answer. Tough love maybe. Love need not always be sappy or romantic. But the core of our response to everyone we meet, as we follow our Christian faith, is love.