I learnt that Maundy comes from the word manifesto. And the manifesto from Jesus at the last supper he had before he died is to ‘serve’. Father Fabian said it twice in the homily. ‘strip off the cloak of pride, put on the towel of humility’ and I parroted it to my son, much to his annoyance. Jesus took off his robe, tied a towel around his waist and he started to wash his disciples’ feet. Father Fabian said in those times, the feet of the disciples are covered with bird shits (though he didn’t use the word shit), toe jam, mud and other icky stuffs. So, usually, these people need to wash their feet before they enter the place to eat. At that time, there were servants to do the feet washing.
Today, Thursday is Holy Thursday or Maundy Thursday. Catholics (and maybe other Christian denominations) reenact the scene where priests washed the feet of 12 persons and then, kissed the feet. I had gone through the washing of the feet ritual when I was going through my RCIA six years ago. It wasn’t difficult at my time because the SARS virus was going on and we were not allowed to use water. We merely wipe with wet wipes. The harder part was when my godmother wiped my feet because the sense of unworthiness was overwhelming.
Personally, I think the essence of Christianity lies with the act of being able to humble oneself to that level of washing another’s feet. Unfortunately, many of us cannot find that kind of humility within us to do so. Yeah, of course, in a public scene like the one in church or some other public events, we can do it because it is nice to be seen doing it. However, how many of us can go out on our own to do so without expecting any applause or rewards?
Talking about being Christians, I notice that people tend to tailor their own kind of Christianity to suit them. Many will say they are followers of Christ but they hate Christians in general. I myself do that. I cannot stand some Christians and their spew of God-ly stuffs in their conversations.
Just yesterday, I met someone like that. Almost every sentence from her has God in it. It made me feel like a total bastard because she seems to have so many godly things to tell me while I just stood there, open mouth. After a while, it probably showed on my face that I am sick of her preaching. I refused to be pulled into the conversation comparing the godly stuffs I do. I refused to jump into the holy-moly bandwagon and started to showcase on the table how many godly stars I get. I probably had the WTF look on my face, she suddenly changed her topic and talked to someone else. Hmmm…my hubby did tell me that I am extremely good in showing my ice-cold face when I am annoyed.
However, no matter how constipated some of the Christians are, I guess I had to swallow them all because being Christian is not about being Jesus Christ the Superstar’s favourite. It is about how resilient we are in carrying out His manifesto. It is about how stubborn we are in hanging on even when we are absolutely disgusted. It is about standing there even when it is easier to throw in the towel and tell them, “I have enough of you Christians.” After all, like my son said, Jesus had 12 disciples so that in each of them, all the bad characters combined will make us feel acceptable and normal. Yes, Jesus’s twelve disciples probably had more bad characters than exemplary qualities.
The twelve disciples are doubtful, power crazy, lazy, sleepy, cowardly, ashamed of Jesus, blindly following without understanding, have little faith, greedy, ignorant, too much of a holy-moly self-righteous judge and much more.
In short, we cannot call ourselves Christians unless we are willing to take all the nonsense from other people who are Christians too. Jesus is not a statue for us to idolise. Jesus is about living a community full of people like the bad characters displayed by the twelve apostles. Being Christian is being able to blend into the community, giving back to the community and building it, inspite of all the bad apples.
After Maundy Thursday, it is Good Friday. Then, it is baptism for new Catholic converts on Saturday. I heard there are 1,000 plus people converting to Catholicism in Malaysia. Praise the Lord!