Through Christ’s love and forgiveness for all, we seek to follow Christ’s commandment to love all, even when it is challenges us.
Vicar Andrea Bonneville
Maundy Thursday, Year B
Texts: John 13:1-17, 31b-35
Beloved in Christ, grace and peace to you in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
It doesn’t make sense.
Perhaps this is what Peter was thinking as Jesus began washing the disciple’s feet. Why would Jesus wash my feet? I am the one that should be washing his. Why would Jesus serve me? I know there are people who need this far more than I do. Why me? It just doesn’t make sense.
This is the dialogue I imagine is running through Peter’s head as Jesus prepares to wash his feet. It doesn’t make sense so Peter resists it, at first. It seems to me like we’ve all been in Peter’s position before, struggling to make sense of or resisting an act of service and love, even when the source of love and service comes from God.
As Peter resists having his feet washed, Jesus says, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Peter hardly has time to process Jesus’ words and actions before Jesus, the face of the Triune God, invites all the disciples to share in God’s healing and reconciliation in the world that is shown through Christ’s love and service.
The phrase “it doesn’t make sense” is what we say sometimes when we seek further clarification or we don’t fully understand what is being explained to us. And it is what we say when something is truly incomprehensible. It’s a response to shock when we look at a situation are not able to answer why? Or how?
There is a lot that doesn’t make sense in our world, our communities, our lives. It’s likely that we have made some peace with this. Peace with the idea that there are a lot of things we don’t know and even more things that are out of our control.
We make peace.… and then a pandemic happens and it shakes our core… then police brutality and gun violence happen and they shake our core… something always comes along and leaves us putting fragmented pieces together trying to makes sense of the sin, violence, and oppression in us and around us.
We hear from the thirteenth chapter of John today, when Jesus gathers with his friends even with Judas who will eventually betray him. We hear about this last gathering, but the lectionary cuts out the betrayal of Judas. We don’t hear the story maybe because it doesn’t make sense. Why would Jesus wash Judas’ feet? How can betrayal and unconditional love exist at the same time? How do we show such love as washing our betrayer’s feet? It doesn’t make sense. It’s almost unimaginable.
We live in a world that suggests we should be able to rationalize everything. We are told that certain people don’t deserve unconditional love, that even we, at times, don’t deserve love and forgiveness Christ brings.
But Jesus puts aside what makes sense and helps us imagine how life will look like when we live out of our identity as God’s beloved. We live out of Jesus’ love, because the reality of our life is this: healed people heal people, forgiven people forgive people, and loved people love people. We don’t just hold one part of this identity, but this identity encompasses all of who we are.
Healed, forgiven, loved. By Christ, who shows us and commands us to be the embodiment of God’s love even when it doesn’t make sense.
Jesus says: Do you know what I have done to you? I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love on another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
The commandment is to love as Christ has loved us. How do we do this? We do this through service and caring for our neighbors. We do this by embodying God’s love and proclaiming that God’s love is for all. We imitate Jesus’ love and action regardless if we understand why or know how the Holy Spirit is working within it.
The commandment to love doesn’t come with a condition. It comes with an unconditional promise. The triune God’s encompassing love on the cross, it just doesn’t make sense, not because we don’t understand what it means on the surface. But because the cross is going to lead us into places in which we don’t have all the answers, places that filled with suffering, places that challenge what it means to be a Christian community.
Today and in the days ahead, God’s indescribable and unconditional love for us with be shown for all of creation. God’s love pours out for all of us regardless of who we are because God created us out of love, to be loved, and to share love. There is nothing more central to the identity of who we are or who God is.
Christ’s love is for you, Christ’s love is for all.
Proclaim this because with God it will always make sense.