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  • Writer's pictureGreg Dover

Greg's Weekly Word: "mandate"

Not exactly what I had in mind...

We've heard a lot about mandates recently. So you probably know what the word means. At least, more so than "man dates." (You can find a description here.) A mandate, however, is a requirement... an order... a command.

And before anyone gets their knickers in a knot about the political circus surrounding masks and vaccines, that's not what I'm talking about. Because, although the word has been thrown around quite a bit in recent months and we might be tempted to think it is a recent development, people of faith have long lived under a mandate.

When Jesus gathered with his disciples for their last meal together, he tells them,

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)

It is a new command... an order... a requirement for his disciples. It is a mandate. In fact, during Holy Week, we remember this last meal on the night called Maundy Thursday. The name comes from the Latin word mandatum ("commandment," from which we get our English word "mandate"), because of this new commandment Jesus gives.

But maybe even more interesting is the root of the Latin word, made up of two words: manus ("hand") and dare ("to give"). To give a hand...

Whether we hope to be faithful followers of Jesus or budding linguistic scholars (or, in my case, both!), the point and purpose of a mandate is the same: to give a hand. It's right there in the word.... And in the Word. "Love one another." Jesus doesn't just ask it of us. He requires it.

Will that affect how we view masks and vaccines, and how we keep some of the most vulnerable in our society healthy and safe? Or how we care for one another (and others), as we navigate sickness and sorrow, uncertainty and loss? Will it affect how we speak to and treat one another? Or share our resources? Or spend our time? Or use our gifts?

I certainly hope so. For Christ's sake...and for our own.

Because ultimately, Christ's is the only mandate that matters. And yet, if we will live our lives by it, it will change everything. Especially us. And maybe the world, too.


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