Every single Mass, we hear the words “on the night he was betrayed.”
That night was Holy Thursday, and it is one of the most important nights in all of history.
Here are 10 things you need to know.
1. What happened on the original Holy Thursday?
An amazing amount of stuff! This was one of the most pivotal days in the life of Jesus Christ.
Here are some of the things the gospels record for this day (including events that happened after midnight). Jesus:
- Sent Peter and John to arrange for them to use the Upper Room to hold the Passover meal.
- Washed the apostles’ feet.
- Held the first Mass.
- Instituted the priesthood.
- Announced that Judas would betray him.
- Gave the “new commandment” to love one another.
- Indicated that Peter had a special pastoral role among the apostles.
- Announced that Peter would deny him.
- Prayed for the unity of his followers.
- Held all the discourses recorded across five chapters of John (John 13-18).
- Sang a hymn.
- Went to the Mount of Olives.
- Prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.
- Was betrayed by Judas.
- Stopped the disciples from continuing a violent resistance.
- Healed the ear of Malchus, the high priest’s servant, after Peter cut it off with a sword.
- Was taken before the high priests Annas and Caiaphas.
- Was denied by Peter.
- Was taken to Pilate.
It was a momentous day!
If you’d like to read the gospel accounts themselves, you can use these links:
2. Why is Holy Thursday sometimes called “Maundy Thursday”?
The word “Maundy” is derived from the Latin word mandatum, or “mandate.”
This word is used in the Latin text for John 13:34:
“Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos.”
Or, in English:
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you.”
Holy Thursday is thus sometimes called Maundy Thursday because it was on this day that Christ gave us the new commandment–the new mandate–to love one another as he loves us.
3. What happens on this day liturgically?