Do you remember the last time you gathered with your family and friends to have dinner? Mine was on March 1. It was my daughter Megan’s birthday. I made lasagna and meatballs and baked a Funfetti cake, which is her favorite. We had a lot of fun celebrating, laughing and enjoying the food along with each other’s company. I got to hug and play games and color with my grandsons. It was loud and crazy and amazing. We didn’t know that that would be the last time we would all be together for quite some time.
Today is Holy (Maundy) Thursday. The word “maundy” means washing the feet of the poor. The Catholic Church commemorates this day as the last time Jesus and His disciples gathered for dinner, or the Last Supper. On that night He washed the feet of these twelve men, which was an act of humble love. It was the night that gave birth to Holy Communion as Jesus blessed and broke the bread and wine and gave it to His apostles saying, “Do this in remembrance of me.” I imagine they must have questioned at the time what that meant. It was the night we received the new commandment to “Love one another.” It was the last time they would all be together. They didn’t know, but Jesus did.
This group of friends were just enjoying an evening of being together on that Holy Thursday evening. They did not have any clue as to what was going to happen in the days ahead. My family was just enjoying an evening of being together on March 1. We didn’t know what was going to happen in the days ahead. The disciples weren’t prepared. We weren’t prepared. As Catholic history progresses with the arrest of Jesus, these disciples, his friends, became scared. As more and more people in our country got sick and started dying with COVID-19, we became scared.
So here we are in real time reflecting on the events of Holy Maundy Thursday like we do each year during this Easter season. Only this year, it is different. This year I am sure we can actually feel the love and comradery the disciples felt that evening in the company of Jesus, and then the terror of what happened later that night in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed, was betrayed and then arrested. The disciples were afraid, isolating themselves in hiding. One minute we, too, were enjoying dinner in the company of our loved ones, and in an instant, we became afraid of the invisible virus that was so ferociously sickening and killing so many. We now isolate ourselves.
History has proven that life as we know it can change in an instant. But we also know that faith always wins out over fear, as proven by those brave men and how they moved forward growing our faith throughout the world.
Be brave in the days ahead. Be faithful. We don’t know what will happen, but Jesus does.
And until you can hug your families and friends again, hold them close in your heart.