(5 april 2012, maundy thursday)
the lessons he taught were intricate.
the insights he gave were intimate.
the wisdom he shared was infinite.
the example he set was ultimate.
but the commandments he gave were sacrificial, simple and few.
in impact, they were universal.
in number, they were two.
LOVE the One who gives you life, the One who loves us all.
LOVE the ones with whom you live your life, all creatures great and small.
leave it to us blessed and broken humans to complicate and (at times) desecrate such a primal and powerful calling to live life as it was created to be lived. but it seems that embracing emptiness in order to experience fullness, letting go of life in order to discover life, loving all of creation in order to realize that we are already loved...these realities appear to be too 'counterintuitive' and 'non-rational' for us to fully imagine and incarnate.
this certainly comes home to us on a day like today. 'Maundy Thursday' gets its name from the middle english and old french term 'mande', itself a derivative from the latin term 'mandatum', which means 'commandment'.
as in the 'new' commandment that Jesus gave to his followers on the evening that they celebrated passover.
the commandment that embodied the two great commandments he had given them earlier on their journey together.
the commandment that he demonstrated to them by becoming their servant that night, stripping himself naked, wrapping a towel around his waist, and washing their feet.
the 'King' of the feast becoming the loyal subject.
the 'Sage' of the ritual becoming the jester.
the 'Conqueror' of the empire becoming the captive of the crowds.
Love personified becoming Love mortified...
'Love one another as I have loved you...all people will know that you follow me if you love one another.'
and the followers of Jesus over the centuries have sought to embody this simple commandment in astoundingly striking and ironic ways...
by starting 'religious' wars...and founding 'religious' hospitals.
by subjugating and castigating those who are deemed 'unclean' and 'unholy' and 'unworthy'...and by embracing, celebrating and empowering those who are dismissed by societies and religious traditions as 'witless' and 'wordless' and 'worthless'.
by drawing impenetrable 'lines in the sand' over what must be believed and how it must be believed and why...and by embodying the Spirit of the One who drew 'lines in the sand' that painted a picture of acceptance, forgiveness, and love, and emphasizing that the Who is always more essential than the whats and the hows, and even the whys.
by making up criteria and lists of who's 'in' and who's 'out' of the entity called the 'Kingdom of God'...and by leaving those distinctions behind, and loving ALL of God's creation and creatures, and living into an experience known by some (but not all) as the 'Kingdom of God'.
the 'mandatum' of ancient times.
the 'maundatum' of right here and right now.
incarnated in the One who loves and lives...and gives and gives.
experienced here...and there.
embodied now...and then.
again...and again...and again.