Today is Maundy Thursday, arguably the climax of our Lord’s earthly ministry, the day He washed His disciple’s feet, gave them the mandate (thus, “maundy”) to love one another, instituted the Sacrament of Holy Communion, experienced agony in the garden, gave His high priestly prayer for his disciples and for all who would later believe (us), was betrayed, arrested, scourged, and abandoned.
After the jump, one of my favorite poems, by George Herbert, a Maundy Thursday/Good Friday poem that brings together many of these themes in an unforgettable way. (I’ve posted it here before, but it is worth re-reading at this time of year over and over.)
Philosophers have measured mountains,
Fathom’d the depths of seas, of states, and kings,
Walk’d with a staff to heaven, and traced fountains
But there are two vast, spacious things,
The which to measure it doth more behove:
Yet few there are that sound them; Sin and Love.
Who would know Sin, let him repair
Unto Mount Olivet; there shall he see
A man, so wrung with pains, that all his hair,
His skin, his garments, bloody be.
Sin is that Press and Vice, which forceth pain
To hunt his cruel food through every vein.
Who knows not Love, let him assay,
And taste that juice, which on the cross a pike
Did set again abroach; then let him say
If ever he did taste the like.
Love is that liquor sweet and most divine,
Which my God feels as blood; but I, as wine.
by George Herbert 1593-1633