One of the things we will remember on the 18th April, the Thursday of Holy Week (the week of Good Friday) is that Jesus washed the feet of his disciples during their last meal together before Jesus was led away to be tried. We know this day as Maundy Thursday, the Old English word Maundy being related to the modern ‘mandate’ and ‘command’. At this meal, Jesus said: ‘I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another’. For him, love implied willingness to serve each other and not to fight for first place. The foot-washing showed Jesus, their ‘rabbi’, or teacher, in the role of the lowest servant. In the Kingdom of God, ‘the last will be first, and the first will be last’.

In the Middle Ages, the monarch used to wash the feet of beggars on Maundy Thursday. Later monarchs gave money to the poor in a tradition that still holds today with the Royal Maundy ceremony. (

We might do well to use a prayer of St Francis of Assisi as we ask God to work through us in the service of others:

Where there is hatred, let me sow love; Where there is injury, pardon;

Where here is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light; Where there is sadness, joy. Amen.


(The complete prayer can be found at