This day became my favorite one of the Church calendar when I was in a London bookshop and found a paperback called "Maundy Thursday." I just liked the antique-sounding word. The definition most nearly means "mandate," which I only learned this year. It is a French word, mandé, and it relates to John 13:14 and the words spoken by Jesus to his disciples after washing their feet at the Last Supper:
" If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him."
Many churches continue the tradition today. The dictionary states: "There will be washing of the feet of the poor or distributing alms to the poor in connection with the maundy ceremony."
The Catholic Church used the long version of this Gospel passage tonight, and I'm always shocked each year at Our Lord's humility. Even slaves were not made to wash another man's fee. Truly we must all take a servant's heart and be willing to meet the needs of others whom the Holy Spirit guides onto our path.