Significance of maundy Thursday

Today, April 6,2023 is Maundy Thursday Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday is the fifth day of the Holy week which starts on Palm Sunday.

The word “maundy”  is drawn from a Latin word, maundatum. 

Catholic Bishop of Enugu diocese, Most Rev Callistus Onaga said maundatum  comes from the Latin translation of the Bible verse, “I give you a new commandment,” or maundatum novum da vobis. This was among Jesus’ last words to His followers in the Gospel of St  John.

The Cleric explained that maundy Thursday is part of Holy week, also known as Passion week, the concluding period of Lent, a time of fasting and abstinence in preparation for Easter. 

“Holy Thursday was the day Jesus celebrated the Jewish feast of Passover, when God delivered the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt ,thousands of years ago. It marks the beginning of the Easter Triduum, three days of solemn worship in preparation for Christ’s Resurrection from the dead,* he said.

Maundy Thursday was filled with significant events. Not only did Jesus share the passover meal and communion, but is also the day he retreated to the Garden of Gethsemane. 

While Judas left to go to the Jewish leaders to betray Him, Jesus knelt in agony, prayer and surrender. 

David Mathis in Writing for,  says in the article “The House had come Maundy Thursday in the Garden of Agony” that Maundy Thursday marks the time when “the hour had come.” 

The Bible often records Jesus saying His hour had not yet come (John 2:4), but on Maundy Thursday, he knew that the beginning of the fulfillment of His greatest mission on Earth had come.

“All Jesus’s human life had anticipated this hour,” writes Mathis. “Every careful attempt at keeping the messianic secret. Every emotional investment poured gladly into his disciples. Every glimpse of the ocean of his kindness as he healed the blind, the mute, the lame, the demonized, and even raised the dead.

“Now the hour has come. All history hinges on this hour. And it is utterly terrifying. Jesus must decide: Will he protect his own skin, and soul, or will he embrace his Father’s perfect and painful will?”

On Maundy Thursday, Jesus agonizes over what He is about to face on the cross and he “prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood” (Luke 22:44) 

 Maundy  Thursday alsi celebrates Jesus’ Last Supper, in which He established the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and the sacrament of Holy Order( priesthood).  

It is the second most sacred Mass celebration of the year after Easter.”

According to Bishop Onaga, maundy Thursday’s origins and celebrations dated back to the early Christian church. Converts to Christianity in the ancient Roman world recognized the significance of the Last Supper of Christ through the apostles’ teaching.They celebrated the day with prayer, reception of Holy Communion at Mass, and blessing of holy oils or chrism that would be used to baptize and confirm new church members at the Easter celebration and throughout the year.  Bishops perform the same blessing of the oils on Holy Thursday morning, with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper taking place after l.

On Holy Thursday the priest ceremonially wash the feet of twelve men to remember Christ’s washing of his apostles’ feet at the Last Supper.

He said that there is  the  ceremony of washing the feet of the poor,  commemorating Jesus’ washing of His disciples’ feet, as a show of service to the man, it shows humility. On maundy Thursday. also called: maundy money, money was distributed as alms to the poor.This signifies show of love. Jesus through His last Supper taught us to care for one another, live a communal life. 

An Analyst, Felicity Moran , noted that maundy Thursday, which  celebrates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ the day before His crucifixion,  occurs on the Thursday of Holy Week and is also the beginning of the Easter Triduum. Most prominently in the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

A Catholic Priest, Anthony Aneke observed that the celebrations of Holy Thursday are both solemn and complicated, as Christians and Catholics specifically consider this day the most sacred Eucharist celebration of the church.

“The celebration commemorates the institution of the Sacrament of the Holy  Eucharist. At the last Supper, Jesus took the bread and blessed it  and gave to His Disciples to eat that it is His body . He also blessed wine and gave them to drink that it is His blood. Jesus commissioned them to do that in the memory of Him, that is what the Church celebrates in the Eucharistic celebration, Jesus giving His Body and Blood under the appearance of bread and wine at every Mass. 

“In addition to this, Holy Thursday remembers Christ’s establishment of the priesthood, whereby His apostles were given authority to perform this miracle and pass it on to other men in the ordination of priests and bishops. 

 Aneke explained that some of the specific celebrations on Maundy Thursday include the Chrism Mass, the watching of the feet. He said that Chrism Mass is a Mass when the bishop blesses the oils to be used in the church year in  baptisms, confirmations and anniinting of the sick 

“The washing of the feet, here,  Ordained men perform this traditional washing at the evening Mass”, he said. 

History had it that in the past in England, the king or queen of England participated in the washing of the feet on Maundy Thursday. The monarch now offers alms to low-income people instead.

Another significance of maundy Thursday is various ways the Holy Eucharist is celebrated, all geared towards recognizing the presence of Jesus Christ among men. These ways include, Eucharist procession: This is seen mostly during the feast of Christ the King, Catholic Churches will have a procession with the Eucharist around the church and sometimes to another location.

There is the Holy Eucharist adoration: After Mass, churches will have Eucharistic adoration, or exposure of the Eucharist for a period of time, during which people can come and pray just as Jesus asked his disciples to come and pray with Him before he was arrested.

From the above, one could see that Maundy Thursday signifies love, humility, betrayal, faith in God and fulfilment of the hour Jesus talked about. It was on Maudy Thursday that Jesus told His Apostles that the hour had come got the son of man to be given unto death. It was on a Maundy Thursday that Jesus had His passover meal, shared bread and wine with His Apostles and tasked them to love one another . He instituted the sacrament of  Holy Eucharist and commissioned the Apostles to do that in memory of Him. We could see the importance of prayer. Jesus withdrew to the Garden of Gestamane to pray, sought the face of God because he knew without God, man can do nothing.

It was also on Maudy Thursday that Jesus betrayed Jesus. Without that betrayal, maybe Jesus wouldn’t have been crucified. So, the betray on Maundy Thursday, made the prophecy about the death and resurrection of Christ to become a reality.

Maundy Thursday brought darkness to the world and that led to light.

Rev Fr Anthony Aneke explained that when Jesus was arrested by the Jews, His followers were afraid, they were in a sorrowful moment on Maundy Thursday, on  Good Friday Jesus was crucified  and on Easter Sunday, Jesus rose from the death and brought light to the world.

Author:Maureen Ikpeama

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *