Movie of the Week: The Passion of the Christ
Clip: 1:02:15 – 1:03:15; 1:40:58 – 1:43:15
Old Testament: Exodus 12:1-14
New Testament: John 13:1-17
The Thursday before Easter is known as Maundy Thursday. It is a day to remember Jesus washing the disciples’ feet (found only in John 13) and the Last Supper. In Mel Gibson’s movie, he has brilliantly intersperses flashback clips of him washing their feet and of the Last Supper. To fully get the effect, you’ll have to watch the length of the crucifixion scene, but the above clips do allow to watch snippets of the flashbacks.
Today would be a good opportunity to use Ignatius’ imaginative prayer to take ourselves back to the night when Jesus was crucified. These events are among the most emotional in all the Bible. Use John 13 to immerse yourself into the story that night. The initial verse of chapter 13 helps set the tone: we don’t know when Jesus became fully aware of his mission and self-identity, but we do now that by this point, he was fully aware. He knew the table that was set before him, and that it was in this moment he chose to “show them the full extent of his love” is powerful.
The metaphor of “washing” their feet is powerful in the context of Jesus “washing” away our sins by his redeeming sacrifice on the cross. The connection between these moments of servitude and sacrifice unite those two central themes to the life of Christ. His speech in this moment has always been one of my favorites and one of the most profound. Perhaps reading the modern translation from The Message can help communicate its power.
“Do you understand what I have done to you? You address me as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do. I’m only pointing out the obvious. A servant is not ranked above his master; an employee doesn’t give orders to the employer. If you understand what I’m telling you, act like it—and live a blessed life.”
Through washing their feet “he showed the full extent of his love” and he “set them an example to follow.” These are two profound truths for us to focus on. Pray that God can help you live up to this bar of expectation. Connecting this, with the two elements of the supper that follows (bread and wine), offer a tangible connection with this moment. Whenever we take communion, we are always remembering this moment – looking back at the emotions and power of this moment. Offer the prayer below from the Book of Common Prayer for Maundy Thursday.
“Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries give us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.”