Thursday, April 14, 2022

Maundy Thursday


Maundy Thursday

‘I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’

John 13:34, 35

This year through Lent I have been encountering God afresh through the Lviv School of Iconographers. And on this Maundy Thursday, I want to share three works by Ivanka Demchuk. For me, the theme running through them is feet, as an expression of how we are called to love one another.

The first image is The Still Point. This is an icon of the Holy Family, and it depicts Jesus’ first steps. He is released by his father, who is wearing his cloak and sandals, as the Israelites were instructed to do when eating the Passover meal, in readiness to head out into the night. He is making his way, on chubby infant legs, to his mother, whose arms are outstretched to receive him, to envelop him. The One through whom all things were created humbles himself to be taught how to use his body, how to move through time and space.

The second image is The Shroud. This is an icon of the Epitaphios, of the dead Christ laid out on a shroud, ready for preparation for burial. Whereas Jesus’ mother and her companions, and even the four Evangelists, one in each corner, are often depicted, here Jesus is alone. His body is taut—rigor mortis is setting in—and every sinew in his feet stands out. Feet recently anointed by Mary, in preparation for this moment, as Jesus himself would go on to wash the feet of Peter and the other disciples (presumably including Judas, who would die concurrently with him).

The third image is On the Way to Emmaus. Here we see Jesus approaching two disciples, coming alongside those who are distraught, who move through time and space as precariously as a toddler and with even less awareness. The feet in this icon are tiny, do not look as if they could carry the weight of a man, of a life. And yet once again they reveal great love, for one lost to death, for two lost and wandering sheep who need to be found and brought back to the sheepfold.

Who taught you to walk? To walk in a literal, physical sense; and to walk in the ways of the Lord? Living or dead, take a moment to thank God for them.

Who is preparing you to face the days that lie ahead? And who are you encouraging?

Who walks alongside you, through whom Christ may be revealed in fleeting moments, and gives you strength to carry on?

This is what it means to love one another. By this shall everyone know that we have been with Jesus, that we follow him on his Way.


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