Turning Things Topsy-Turvy
Homily for the Maundy Thursday Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper
Preached on April 2, 2015 at Saint Andrew Catholic Church, Harrodsburg KY
Readings: Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14; Psalm 116:12-13, 15-16bc, 17-18; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; John 13:1-15
Jesus has this habit of turning things upside-down.
When this world says, “First come, first served,” and “The last one is a rotten egg,” Jesus says, “The first will be last” (Mt. 19:30, 20:16; Mk. 10:31; cf. Lk. 13:30), and “The last will be first” (Mt. 19:30, 20:16; Mk. 10:31; cf. Lk. 13:30). When this world says, “Pity the poor,” and “Woe to those who are persecuted,” Jesus says “Blessed are the poor” (Mt. 5:3; Lk. 6:20), and “Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mt. 5:10). When this world says “Save your own skin,” and “Mind your own business,” Jesus says “Whoever saves his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” (Mt. 16:25; Lk. 17:33; cf. Jn. 12:25). While this world expects the slave to do all the grunt work, Jesus shows us that the Master is not afraid to get His own hands dirty because He came “not to be served, but to serve” (Mt. 20:28; Mk. 10:45).
What Jesus preaches with His word and His works seems so contrary to what this world has come to expect. Some would say it is because Jesus’ thinking is topsy-turvy. But, they make that claim because they fail to see that it is Jesus who got it all right and that it is this world that got it all mixed up. Jesus indeed is turning things upside-down, but only because we live in a world that has gone backwards.
Since humanity’s fall from grace, this world has gotten everything inside-out. It has turned priorities out of order: life has become all about power and privilege, about getting ahead and leaving no stones unturned, about demanding our rights instead of doing what is right, about having goods instead of being good. We have exchanged the worship of the Almighty God for the worship of the almighty “me” and, when we get too much in love with ourselves, we often fail to see the sense in loving anybody else.
That is why the Lord Jesus has shown us by example how to love. He loved the Father so much and “He loved His own in the world and He loved them to the end” (Jn. 13:1) such that nothing else mattered: not the servile work of washing feet, not the gift of His own Body and Blood, not even His death on the cross. This is the lesson that He leaves us today: to the one who loves only himself, nothing is ever enough; but to the one who truly loves, nothing is ever too much.
The Lord Jesus has given us “a model to follow” (Jn. 13:15). As far as this world is concerned, we would have to stand on our heads to live up to that standard. But, that would be easy if we have already fallen head over heels in love with God.