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Archive for April 13th, 2017

“… in times past this sacrament was so properly used, and the people were taught to understand this fellowship so well, that they even gathered food and material goods in the church, and there—as St. Paul writes in I Corinthians 11: 23—distributed among those who were in need. We have a vestige of this [practice] in the little word “collect” in the mass, which means a general collection, just as a common fund is gathered to be given to the poor. Those were the days too when so many became martyrs and saints. There were fewer masses, but much strength and blessing resulted from the masses; Christians cared for one another, supported one another, sympathized with one another, bore one another’s burdens and affliction. This has all disappeared, and now there remain only the many masses and the many who receive this sacrament without in the least understanding or practicing what it signifies.

There are those, indeed, who would gladly share in the profits but not in the costs. That is, they like to hear that in this sacrament the help, fellowship, and support of all the saints are promised and given to them. But they are unwilling in their turn to belong also to this fellowship. They will not help the poor, put up with sinners, care for the sorrowing, suffer with the suffering, intercede for others, defend the truth, and at the risk of [their own] life, property, and honor seek the betterment of the church and of all Christians. They are unwilling because they fear the world. They do not want to have to suffer disfavor, harm, shame, or death, although it is God’s will that they be thus driven—for the sake of the truth and of their neighbors—to desire the great grace and strength of this sacrament. They are self-seeking persons, whom this sacrament does not benefit. just as we could not put up with a citizen who wanted to be helped, protected, and made free by the community, and yet in his turn would do nothing for it nor serve it. No, we on our part must make the evil of others our own, if we desire Christ and his saints to make our evil their own.  Then will the fellowship be complete, and justice be done to the Sacrament.  For the Sacrament has no blessing and significance unless love grows daily and so changes a person that he is made one with all others.

(From Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings, edited  by Timothy F. Lull, “The Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, and the Brotherhoods”, 1519)

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Note about the word, “Maundy”:  It is derived from the Latin “mandatum”, or commandment (as in “mandate”).  On this 1st of the 3 days of our salvation, the Lord Jesus gave 2 commandments.  

1.  When He washed His disciples feet He said, A new commandment that you love one another.  The sense of the Greek is that the new commandment is SO THAT you love another, which would mean the new commandment is to wash each other’s feet.  IN that way we love each other and show forth His love to all.  

2. When He broke the bread and gave the Cup, He gave us His body and blood with the words, “Do this”.  The Holy Communion is not optional, but a command.  In Jewish tradition the 2 candles on the dining table represent:  Command and Remembrance.  Yes! “Do this, in remembrance of Me.”  As we are serve one another the Lord serves us His Body and Blood till He comes again in glory.  His Church is called to serve the Dinner:  the Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper, the Mass and serve one another.  

The two sets of readings for this holy day are about the vertical and horizontal dimension of the Holy Communion of the Church:  kneeling to receive the Sacrament of the Altar and kneeling to wash each other’s feet. In many of the icons of the Lord washing Peter’s feet, Peter has his hand to his forehead as if he saying, “Oh, my!”. This is the Lord who knelt to wash His disciples feet.  The Lord who knelt to feed us His Body and Blood. The Lord who knelt in prayer.  He calls us to Himself as His kneeling Church.

COLLECT OF THE DAY

O Lord, in this wondrous Sacrament You have left us a remembrance of Your passion. Grant that we may so receive the sacred mystery of Your body and blood that the fruits of Your redemption may continually be manifest in us; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

READINGS:

Exodus 24:3-11

Psalm 116:12-19

1 Corinthians 11:  23-32

St. Matthew 26:  17-30

or

Exodus 12:1-14

Psalm 116:12-19

 1 Corinthians 11:23-32

 John 13:1-17, 31b-35

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