Washing of the Feet and Vigil Service Commemorated on Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday is one of the most somber and significant days of the Christian calendar, a day filled with symbolic services commemorating the last days of our Lord Jesus Christ’s earthly life. Maundy Thursday begins with Divine Liturgy in the morning during which faithful receive Holy Communion for the first time following the seven weeks of Great Lent. The service commemorates the Last Supper, where Jesus instituted the sacrament of Holy Communion and the rite of Divine Liturgy, reminding us that we too can receive His saving grace with confession and repentance. In the evening, through the Washing of the Feet service we remember the message of humility and the importance of serving our fellow man. Furthermore, the act of Jesus washing the feet of His disciples is a manifestation of His love for mankind and the foreshadowing of the sacrifice He will soon endure. The day concludes with the soul-stirring Vigil service during which we somberly recall the betrayal, arrest, trial, and suffering of our Lord Jesus Christ. The twelve lit candles at the altar are extinguished successively after each Gospel reading until there is only a single candle burning, symbolizing the Light of Jesus Christ which illuminates the darkness of the world.

On April 2, 2015, H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, presided over Maundy Thursday services at St. Sarkis Church in Pasadena and Holy Cross Cathedral in Montebello. His Eminence first conducted the Washing of the Feet in Pasadena and delivered his message to the faithful inspired by the Gospel of John 13:1-6. The Prelate gave an overview of the atmosphere on that eve of Passover and of the meaning of the feast to the Jews, the saving of the Israelites during the Exodus by the blood of the sacrificed lamb. At the Passover meal of the Last Supper however, Jesus knew that He would be soon be going to the Father, that He would shed His blood as the Lamb of God. And so, with the Cross in sight, Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. He did so to teach the message of humility and service to one another, but more importantly, He did so as a sign of His love and impending sacrifice for mankind. It was because of His boundless love for man that the Son of God humbled Himself and became like a servant, said the Prelate. Love was the motivation for all that Christ did for us. Thus, as Jesus instructed His disciples to do unto one another what He did for them, we too must serve one another with humility and above all with love, because without love, our actions are superficial and meaningless. Therefore, let us all, clergy and lay alike, follow in the beautiful example set forth by our Lord Jesus Christ and serve one another, motivated by love alone, concluded the Prelate.

The Prelate then headed to Montebello to preside over the Vigil service. His Eminence began his sermon by recalling the seven last words of Christ on the Cross, beginning with a plea of forgiveness for those who caused Him suffering, and ending with the words, “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46) On that Cross, Jesus showed us that He gave His absolute all for us, that He sacrificed Himself because of His infinite love for us, and He rose from the grave to show that He is Lord over life and death. The Cross has the power to transform lives. Let us accept the invitation and promise of a new life in Him by planting the Cross in our hearts. As Jesus submitted His spirit to His Father let us entrust ourselves into His loving hands. Our Lord is with us always; He is with us through the Bible, through the Sacraments, through Holy Communion, and in prayer. Tonight, let us vow to honor His sacrifice by committing ourselves to Him, by turning faith into action and serving Him and our fellow man with love in His example. Let us feel the atmosphere of the Crucifixion and hear the heartrending words of our Lord echoing in our souls as we proclaim “praise be to You, we kneel before Your Cross, Christ,” concluded the Prelate.

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