The Gospel according to John (13:16-20
When Jesus had washed the disciples’ feet, he said to them: “Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it. I am not speaking of all of you. I know those whom I have chosen. But so that the Scripture might be fulfilled, The one who ate my food has raised his heel against me. From now on I am telling you before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe that I AM. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, you taught the Apostles to pray, and they were unstoppable in their mission as your messengers. Help me to pray well now, so I can hear your words of encouragement and be sent out to help my wounded brothers and sisters.
Encountering Christ: There are many images and representations of Jesus that inspire and evoke awe. Just to name a few, his healing of the leper who says, if you wish you can make me clean; Jesus holding the children that the apostles were trying to shoo away; Jesus weeping at the tomb of his friend Lazarus; Jesus on the cross.
Among these and many other images is Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. This we know happens during the last supper when he gives us the gift of himself in the breaking of the bread. So, after offering us the bread of life, food for our journey, he shows us in the clearest means possible how we are to live our lives.
The creator of all things including us, the author of life humbled himself, got on his knees and performed a task meant for one who serves. This goes contrary to every earthly model of a supreme leader. Yet as the disciples squirmed, confused and uncomfortable Jesus continues to wash the feet of each of his dearest friends. Jesus says, “No slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him.” This message is meant for us as much as it was for the apostles. In giving us this example, he has given us the blueprint for our voyage home to the Father. Do we accept and believe this promise? Do we receive this with a humble heart ready to serve so that we may be on equal footing with our God who became one of us so that he could show us in no uncertain terms what he offers us?
As deacons we are called to often meditate on the image of Jesus washing the feet of his apostles. It is a reminder that we are called to have a servant’s heart. A heart so tender that when we encounter the grace of the risen Christ, we are so moved that we will do everything within our abilities to be present and tend to our brothers and sisters. I long to be better at doing this but just like you I am a work in progress. And, when we cooperate and collaborate with God’s grace and serve as we are called our hope is that you see Christ. Not because of who we are but because of who he is.
We are all called to do the same. To serve each other, especially the ones Jesus dwelt amongst the most. So that we experience the love, compassion, and healing grace of the servant king who urges us, as he did, to lead others to the Father through the humility of a servant who wants nothing more than to share the gift of life in heaven and earth.
Closing Prayer: Dear Lord, may we go forth with a servant’s heart so that the fruits of our labor may reveal a heart filled with the grace of God. And in doing so may we be icons of Christ who reveals the love of our Father.
Action for the Day: Find an image of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, meditate of the motivation as much as the action and do likewise. Nourished by the living bread we can all find someone whose feet we can wash through some act of kindness, assistance, or simply presence.