Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday is the Christian holy day falling on the Thursday before Easter. It commemorates the Washing of the Feet (Maundy) and Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles, as described in the Bible.
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The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him (John 13: 2-5)
It is the fifth day of Holy Week, preceded by Holy Wednesday and followed by Good Friday. “Maundy” comes from the Latin word mandatum, or commandment, reflecting Jesus’ words “I give you a new commandment.” The day comes always between March 19 and April 22, inclusive, and will vary according to whether the Gregorian calendar or the Julian calendar is used (Eastern churches generally use the Julian system)
Maundy Thursday initiates the Easter Triduum, the period which commemorates the passion, death and resurrections of Jesus; this period includes Good Friday and Holy Saturday, and ends on the evening of Easter. Good Friday begins according to Jewish tradition with sunset, as the Last Supper was held on the feast of Passover, according to the three Gospels.
This year, 2021, Maundy Thursday will be on Thursday, April 1
Christians today observe Maundy Thursday, which commemorates the Last Supper and Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. Here are five important things to know about Maundy Thursday:
What does Maundy mean?
The Thursday before Easter is known as either Maundy Thursday, or Holy Thursday. Maundy is derived from the Latin word for “command,” and refers to Jesus’ commandment to the disciples to “Love one another as I have loved you.”
What does it commemorate?
Maundy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper, which Christians consider the institution of Holy Eucharist, also known as the Lord’s supper or communion. It is described in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 22. At the Last Supper with his disciples, Jesus breaks bread, saying, “This is my body,” and pours wine, saying, “This is my blood.” He then asks the disciples to “Do this in remembrance of me.”
What holiday was Jesus observing?
The Last Supper is derived from Jesus’ Jewish heritage and his observance of a Jewish holiday. The Last Supper was a Passover Seder, the feast of unleavened bread. Jesus and the disciples are eating unleavened bread. Passover is the Jewish festival commemorating the exodus of the Jews from Egypt, when they left so quickly there was no time for the bread to rise.
Maundy Thursday is also associated with foot-washing. Jesus washed the feet of the disciples, an act described in the Gospel of John, chapter 13, as Jesus teaching them to be servants. It’s the ultimate act of “servant leadership.” Jesus instructs his followers to love and to serve. Most Catholic churches will have a Mass tonight, with a Eucharistic celebration that includes the washing of feet..
Maundy Thursday has a dark side
Jesus foretells his death, saying he will eat no more until the kingdom of God is fulfilled. It also marks an act of betrayal. “One of you will betray me,” Jesus says. Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’ 12 disciples, is pointed out by Jesus as the one who will betray him.
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.
This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.
(Matthew 26: 26-29)