The Maundy Thursday Mass will be celebrated throughout all parishes in the Archdiocese of Southwark on Thursday 6th April. Archbishop Wilson will celebrate this Mass at 7.30 pm in St George's Cathedral, Southwark, after which all are welcome to watch at the Altar of Repose. The evening will end with Night Prayer at 11.45 pm.
The word ‘Maundy’ derives from the Latin ‘mandatum’ (and later the English version: mandate) which means ‘commandment’ This reflects Jesus’ instruction at the Passover held in the Upper Room, just prior to his crucifixion:
'I give you a new commandment:that you love one anotheras I have loved you'.
In the Gospel today (John 13:1-15 ), Jesus teaches through the action of washing the disciples' feet. Peter is taken aback and refuses to allow this, but Jesus meets his concern by saying:
'if I do not wash you, you can have nothing in common with me'.
Peter goes on to ask Jesus to wash his hands and head as well, but Jesus tells him '
'No-one who has taken a bath needs washing, he is clean all over. You too are clean, though not all of you are'.
In this last sentence, he refers to his forthcoming betrayal by Judas Iscariot, Later, Jesus asks if the disciples understand the meaning of his actions in washing their feet:
'You call me Master and Lord, and rightly; so I am. If I then have washed your feet, you should wash each other's feet. I have given you an example so that you may copy what I have done to you.'
Essentially this is Jesus' command to the Apostles to serve others.
Institution of the Eucharist
During Maundy Thursday we also witness the Institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, There are slightly differing accounts in the Gospels, but today we hear from St Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians, in which he recounts Jesus' words:
On the same night that he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread, and thanked God for it and broke it, and he said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this as a memorial of me."In the same way he took the cup after supper, and said, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Whenever you drink it, do this as a memorial of me."Until the Lord comes, therefore, every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming his death.
Essentially this account provides the scriptural basis for the Eucharist. In the Old Testament, blood sacrifices were required for atonement and cleansing when the Law was broken. Through the sacrifice of his body and blood, Jesus seals the New Covenant, that is, the mercy of God and the forgiveness of sins so that we may receive our eternal inheritance.
Archbishop Wilson's Homily for Maundy Thursday 2023