The Gospel according to John (13:1-15)
Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end. The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over. So, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Master, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.” Jesus said to him, “Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over; so you are clean, but not all.” For he knew who would betray him; for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.” So when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, open my heart to hear the whispers of your heart as you pour it out to me during this prayer.
Encountering Christ: It wasn’t until well into my adult life that I finally learned a powerful lesson, you can’t please everyone. For a people pleaser by nature that was a difficult pill to swallow. Although I still struggle with this, I am more at peace with pleasing the Lord.
Our current pope, Francis, is no stranger to controversy. Not necessarily because of what he says or does but often because of what he doesn’t say or do. I believe he is in a position where he will never please everyone, or even the majority. But, that doesn’t seem to phase him. He has always seemed to me to be at peace with pleasing the Lord.
One of my strongest impressions of Pope Francis is when he visited a prison in Rome in 2017 and included inmates in the Holy Thursday liturgy. He not only washed their feet but also kissed them before moving on to the next person. The Pope, the highest ranking official in our Catholic church was on his knees washing and kissing the feet of prisoners. What a lesson!! Not because he was, as we traditionally do on Holy Thursday, reenacting the loving gesture and lesson Jesus tried to teach his disciples, but because he brought dignity, humility, and charity to those who are considered outcasts. Not just by the secular world but unfortunately by many people who claim to be followers of Christ.
In today’s gospel we are once again confronted with how to react and respond to the retelling of an act of humility that precedes the ultimate act of complete and total surrender. The creator of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen, the son of God knelt before his friends and gave them THE example of a servant’s heart. Before he was to suffer and die for our salvation, on the same occasion he offered his closest friends the bread of life, he humbled himself in order to show them that the gift of himself and of salvation calls us to serve one another.
All of the lessons, all of the time, conversations, prayers, meals, healings, highs and lows they experienced together culminated with the greatest lesson of all. To follow Jesus is to love without conditions and to serve. No fanfare, no parades, no accolades, just serve without counting the cost and to rely on his body and blood for the grace to do so.
What I wouldn’t give to be in the room as he washed the feet of a bunch of confused, bewildered, and probably scared men. What it must have been like to be present when he said and did all these wonderful and beautiful things.
You and I can every time we celebrate mass and receive the Holy Eucharist. The same Jesus who two thousand plus years ago said and did these amazing things is just as present. With this sacred meal we are called to serve, especially those who have been pushed away, for whatever reason.
Will you and I accept His invitation to be different, to serve and not count the cost, or will we run and hide like his friends did when he needed them most? Let’s go to mass, receive the bread of life and never be the same.
Closing Prayer: Lord, may your example of the greatest becoming the least be for us an inspiration that fills our hearts with a fire to serve as you did. With the grace we receive in your body and the intercession of all of the saints in heaven may we readily follow in your loving and humble footsteps and never be the same.
Action for the Day: Look for someone who needs their feet washed. No, not literally, but who needs to feel the love of our Lord through your servant’s heart. There are countless ways and many who could benefit from an act of grace and humility wrapped in your body, mind, and soul.