Lenten Reflection for Holy Thursday, March 29, 2018
Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14; Psalm 116: 12-13, 15,16; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; John 13:34, 13: 1-15
By Gary Owens ’88
Regardless of where you stand on religion, the Golden Rule spreads across many beliefs: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Easier said than done. More often, we take the approach of treating others the way they treat us. Someone won’t let you over when you are trying to merge on the highway, you speed up and prevent them from changing lanes. A friend doesn’t send you a Christmas card, you take them off the list. Someone doesn’t cover for you, when they ask for a favor later, we say we can’t, even though we probably could. We are a society of Dark Knights and we want justice. Yet what we learn from today’s Gospel reading might be one of the most important lessons Jesus ever taught his disciples: “I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”
Living a Christ-like life is indeed a challenge, but it is what Jesus calls us to do. Zig Ziegler once said, “If you help enough other people get what they want, you’ll get what you want.” As teachers, I’d like to think we exemplify this ideal. But I often struggle to do so in my daily life. It is hard to sacrifice time, money, sanity, or any other valuable asset in order to make sure that someone else gets what they want or need. But some of the best moments of pure joy that I have ever experienced occurred after helping someone.
I remember when I was on my way home from classes at UofL years ago. I still lived with my parents because I couldn’t afford an apartment. As I pulled onto my street, I noticed one of our neighbors had broken up some concrete steps leading up to his front porch. There was a pile of concrete rubble laying where the stairs had once been, and I could see him struggling to lift the pieces of broken rock and toss them in his truck. I pulled in front of my house, walked down to his yard, and started picking up rocks and tossing them in his truck. He asked my name and offered to pay me for helping, but I refused. I drove with him to dump the rocks, came back to get the rest, then went to dump those. It was a great workout for me, but it meant so much more to him. A few weeks later, he offered me a job cleaning up a Nursing home over off Dutchman’s Lane. Years later, my mom ended up at that same Nursing home. Just more evidence of the mysterious ways in which God works.
As we remember the Last Supper on this Holy Thursday, recall the times someone has offered to help with no strings attached. God calls on us to be that person for as many people as possible. We can’t change the world in one day, but we can for one person with one random act of kindness.
God, please help us to remember to be for others what we hope they are for us. Help us to be living examples of the Golden Rule. We ask this through your Son, Jesus, who lives and reigns with You and the Spirit, one Trinity, now and forever, Amen.