Holy Thursday – Sister Josephine Threlfall, SNDdeN

Mar 25, 2024 | Gospel Reflections

March 28, 2024

John 13: 1-15

Today our Lenten journey reaches its climax in the Triduum of the Passion. Just a few days ago on Palm Sunday we celebrated Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem, but the mood has changed over the days since then. Now it is the day of the Passover in honour of the Lord, celebrating the escape of the Israelites from Egypt. “For all generations you are to declare it a day of festival, for ever. ”Exodus 12:14

John’s Gospel does not give us any details of the Passover meal and what took place at the table, but concentrates on two things. First he focuses on the events that are to take place on Good Friday. He knew that the hour had come for his ultimate sacrifice of suffering and death on the cross- showing his perfect love for all humanity.

Secondly he gets up from the table and removes his clothes kneels and washes the feet of his disciples and wipes them with the towel he is wearing. Simon Peter realises what this means- Jesus their Lord and master is taking on the job which is the slave or servant’s job. What great humility Jesus is showing to us in this moment. It is a very solemn occasion when we recognise God’s unfailing, gift of abundant love and mercy for each of us- “I have given you an example so that you may copy what I have done for you.”

At the same time Peter is quite emphatic that Jesus would not wash his feet- ‘You shall never wash my feet.’ Why did he react so strongly? How would I have reacted? Remember this tomorrow when you read in the Passion narrative of Peter’s denial of knowing Jesus three times. Perhaps something to reflect on over the next few days.

The Passover, being a time of remembering – perhaps I could look back over the past remembering God’s goodness in my life. “How can I repay the Lord for his goodness to me?” Psalm 115

Spend time thanking God for the gift of receiving Jesus body and blood in the Eucharist.

God sent his Son to be servant to us and encouraged us to follow his example. What service do I give to others today?

It is also the moment to look forward and prepare immediately for the death of Jesus to be celebrated tomorrow. Let us pray for the love, generosity and courage to face the sufferings in our own life in the days and months ahead.


John 13: 1-15

Before the festival of the Passover, Jesus, knowing that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father, having loved those who were his in the world, loved them to the end. They were at supper, and the devil had already put it into the mind of Judas Iscariot son of Simon, to betray him.
Jesus knew that the Father had put everything into his hands, and that he had come from God and was returning to God, and he got up from table, removed his outer garments and, taking a towel, wrapped it round his waist; he then poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel he was wearing. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet? Jesus answered, ‘At the moment you do not know what I am doing, but later you will understand. ‘Never!’ said Peter. ‘You shall never wash my feet.’ Jesus replied, ‘If I do not wash you, you can have no share with me.’ Simon Peter said, ‘Well then, Lord, not only my feet, but my hands and my head as well!’ Jesus said, ‘No one who has had a bath needs washing, such a person is clean all over. You too are clean, though not all of you are. ‘He knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said, ‘though not all of you are’. When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments again he went back to the table. ‘Do you understand’, he said, ‘what I have done to you? You call me Master and Lord, and rightly; so I am. If I then, the Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you must wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example so that you may copy what I have done to you.

The Word of the Lord …


Meet Sister Jo Threlfall, SNDdeN

Jo Threlfall entered Notre Dame in 1963 having been educated in different parts of the country by five different religious congregations. The attraction of St. Julie’s charism of simplicity, love, and concern for the education of women and girls was always very strong along with her sense of justice. She spent ten years teaching in primary and middle schools in England before going to Nigeria where she spent time teaching in primary and secondary schools. She later worked with women’s development programmes. This was really challenging but enjoyable and rewarding work. There were only 12 sisters from the British Province when she arrived in 1977 and by the time, she left in 1997 there were over 50 sisters, 6 of whom were expatriates. In 2022, there are over 100 Nigerian Sisters with 2 from the British Province. She then spent two years in Zimbabwe in the late 1990’s coordinating women’s development programmes reaching women in the rural areas across the country. Here she was very much aware of the contrast between the wealth in the towns and the dire poverty of the women and children in the rural areas. Often the men went to the towns for work only returning home for short periods. After returning to the UK in 1999, she helped in the Africa Administration section of Cafod and taught English at the Refugee Council. After some pastoral work in Brixton Prison, she continued English teaching at the Cardinal Hume Centre in London and spent a year in the Office of Missio. She has added to her ministry part time work with the ecumenical chaplaincy team at Gatwick Airport. She is a member of the Diocesan Justice and Peace Commission focusing on the Laudato Si Movement, immigrants, and modern day slavery.