The common phrasing phor life today offers one and sundry the common counsel, Live, Laugh, Love.
Jesus responds — preempts if you prefer it precise — with semi-characteristic frankness Love Love Love
I say semi-characteristic since only half the time is he blunt, while the other half he’s maddeningly opaque — like the dork in high school chirruping in his own private joke, as all and sundry stare at him, and around at one another, singularly and collectively shaking their heads going, What a dork.
The clarity and opacity may have to do with whether he’s answering fools according to their folly, but ’tis no matter for now. This is a different ship of fools he’s addressing on this first Maundy Thursday: the straight-up dumb kind not the sniggering ones — and instead of a smack upside the head, they need simply teaching, example, and love.
‘specially as all and sundry shall very, very, very, very soon put their singular and collective feet in their slack-jawed mouths.
So Jesus goes over it again and again and again and again, until Christ! What a dork says it like 87 times.
Even gets to the point where he says flat out, Do you understand what I have done to you? He says this after washing their feet, and as he’s about to institute Holy Communion. Every week we celebrate the latter; I haven’t washed anyone’s feet for nearly 30 years. Hell, I don’t even do my own every day.
The two acts — soap and water and bread and wine — are linked, not least by being both direct and opaque. Hence Christ’s question, Do you understand what I have done to you?
Which is itself direct and opaque, too.
For not for you, mark you, but to you.
In a single evening he’s both Man and God, feet and food, bowing and kneeling twelve times, ‘cluding to the guy who would betray him, in touching tactile ways. Later educators will suggest instruction, repetition, practice, and testing. Here ya go.
I kid, natch, but it’s good, isn’t it? You almost think they won’t need the smack upside the head like those other rubes. But they’re about to get some anyway, over the next several days, and decades.
They’ll get it, mostly, by the end of things.
For the moment, they’re simply engaged in missing dinner, as it were, which is to say, Do you understand what I have done to you?
What dorks, right?
We’ve made such strides in recent years. Else we might miss Jesus semi-characteristically getting to his point so directly.
Live, laugh, love?
Honestly, the first two are filler. Many Christians haven’t lived (none, by the end of things; but you get the idea), while more than a goodly number haven’t laughed that much. Even on the more recent Eat, Pray, Love bidness the first two commands two are strictly optional.
Love, Love, Love.
In fact, let’s take out the punctuation, too.
Love Love Love
Slows us down.