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Why is Maundy Thursday special?

WHEN CHRIST knew that His time in the world was coming to an end, He called His chosen 12 disciples ?Peter, his brother Andrew; James, son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew; James, son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon and Judas Iscariot ? to give them His final words. The day went down in history as Maundy Thursday. He ordered his disciples and their successors into priesthood, and to serve society in general, with special focus on serving and caring for the marginalised and the poor.

india Updated: Apr 13, 2006 00:07 IST

WHEN CHRIST knew that His time in the world was coming to an end, He called His chosen 12 disciples —Peter, his brother Andrew; James, son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew; James, son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon and Judas Iscariot — to give them His final words. The day went down in history as Maundy Thursday. He ordered his disciples and their successors into priesthood, and to serve society in general, with special focus on serving and caring for the marginalised and the poor.

Maundy is a derivative of the Latin term Mandatum, meaning to command. A second meaning is that of humility and service, and Christ gave a fitting example. He washed their feet before supper and thus taught them that if He, as teacher and master could wash their feet (serve them), so also they must do to others. So service to mankind is one of the basic tenets of Christianity.

To this day, the Pope in Rome and the Bishop in every city of the world, wash the feet of 12 devout in the Church congregation. It is a re-enactment of what Christ did and re-enforces the service-to-mankind teaching.

Later, at the dinner table, Christ broke the bread and instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist, a simple way by which His followers could remain in communion with Him, body and soul. Due to this fact, Christians all over the world, make it a point to attend Church services this day and be communed with their Saviour.

The old and the infirm too, receive the Eucharist on this day, though through a special dispensation. While the rest of the faithful go to Church and receive the Eucharist, for the old and infirm, the priest comes to the house and administers it to them.

Interestingly, it was at the Last Supper that Christ revealed to his apostles that one of them was going to betray him. Of course, he didn’t name Judas Iscariot but he knew all the while, who the traitor would be.