Maundy Thursday – April 2021

         Jesus, knowing that he was about to die, spent his last night sharing a meal with his disciples and teaching them, by example, by washing their feet. He was pointing out that no one person is greater than another.  And he leaves us with a new commandment:  “…that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”

What does this mean to you…now….today?   What does it look like to recognize every person, no matter how different in appearance or otherwise, as no different than you, as a beloved child of God?

We’ve been hearing about the trial for George Floyd, we’ve been hearing about the acts of violence again the Asian community, we’ve been hearing about the immigration issues….which makes us wonder….are we really any different than the Roman Empire of Jesus’ time?  Will we desert Jesus just like the disciples did?  What are we afraid of?  Are we keeping the door to our house, to our soul, closed and locked tight?   Are we resisting the freedom that comes from letting go of our attachment to our ego, to our pride, to what we think is right? Can we release our fear?

I’d like to share a meditation from Joyce Rupp’s book The Cup of our Life: A Guide for Spiritual Growth:

“One of the most powerful teaching stories I have ever read is told in Jack Kornfield’s book A Path With Heart.  A father is away from home when robbers come, set fire to the house, and take his young son away with them. The father returns to the ashes of his house and believes his son has died there. He grieves uncontrollably for many months. The son manages to get free from his abductors and find his way home. He knocks on the door and cries, “Papa, Papa,” but the father refuses to open the door, thinking it is one of the neighborhood children taunting him. Eventually the son goes away, never to return.

In this story, the father resists the truth that can bring him joy and freedom from his loss because he clings too much to what he thinks is the truth. When we are in pain, we can easily live with illusions. We may think such things as “No one love me. No one cares. I will never feel happy again.  It was all my fault. I can’t do that. I need more of…however you fill in this blank…etc., etc.  The beginning of healing may be there, but we refuse to let it in because of our resistance.

Our resistance can take many other forms as well. They might be in for the form of a silent withdrawal, apathy, running away, talking incessantly, defending and challenging, constantly being busy, ignoring or pretending not to understand, being critical, or making excuses. Resistance is like placing a hand over the opening to a cup. Nothing can come into or be poured out of the cup.  So, too, with our spiritual life.

Martha, the sister of Lazarus, did not believe her brother Lazarus could be restored to life. She insisted that he had been dead too long. Martha resisted the possibility that Jesus could call him out of his tomb

of deadness.   (The Cup of Our Life,  pp. 101-102)

Are our doors closed and locked?  Are we afraid to let in that which is different?  Do we have a hand over our cup that prevents us from being open to new ideas and perspectives? Are we afraid to go out and meet those that are different?  Jesus gave us a new commandment –  that we love one another, just as he loves us.

No matter how doubtful, apprehensive, or powerless we feel, we ought never give up hope of opening what is closed in us. The padlock on the door may have an impossible combination, but the Holy One can open even the most heavily defended door. As the English mystic Caryll Houselander puts it:  “It is for me that God awaits, with open hands, a beggar at the locked gates of my soul.”

John’s gospel assures us of this in the resurrection stories. He describes the frightened disciples huddled together after Christ’s death, hiding in a place where “the doors of the house were locked.”  The secured doors proved no problem for the Risen Christ. Twice he comes through doors locked out of fear. He entered “although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, ‘Peace be with you.’” A week later the disciples were once more in the house. Again, “although the doors were shut, Jesus comes, stands among them, saying, ‘Peace be with you’”

Love entered the room and freed the disciples’ inner barriers. No matter how fortified or unyielding the door is, the divine comes to bring freedom and peace. This compassionate presence urges us to be less anxious, less defensive, less hostile, less self-deprecating or aggrandizing, less glued to protective postures and set ways of thinking.

Let’s have the courage to unlock doors, even those nailed shut.  Unlock the door today and breathe a sigh of relief.  Allowing another person’s light to shine does not diminish ours.

A prayer:

Risen Christ, you came through the locked doors of the fearful disciples’ house. Come through the locked doors of my inner dwelling place. Bring your enveloping peace to where I am most in need of it. I open the door of my heart to you. I open the door. Let your love enter and free me to push past my fear and be as Christ to the other, to my neighbor, to seek out a relationship with those who are different from me. Let your love show us the way to ending hate and divisiveness in our world.  Amen.