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.”
Reflection: Imagine an entourage of cars coming down your street. A big dark SUV stops in front of your house. Too many to count, there are men in dark suits and sunglasses all over your front yard. One opens the door to the SUV and out comes the pope. He is escorted to your front door and as he walks in, he asks where your cleaning supplies are. You don’t know what to say so you point to the hall closet. The pope reaches for the mop and a bucket and heads to the sink to fill the bucket with water and cleaning solution. Words escape you as you try to protest and try to stop the pope from mopping your kitchen floor.
In this unlikely event we might consider how crazy this whole idea is, the pope, cleaning our house. Now imagine you are one of the twelve closest friends of Jesus and you have become more and more convinced that Jesus is the Son of God. He has been telling you how his life would end in suffering and humiliation. As he reaches you, you are stunned at what he has done to the others before you. Then, The Messiah, The Great I Am, kneels before you and starts to wash your feet. You cannot fathom how you, an unworthy sinner, could have your feet washed by your master. If there is ever a moment when the whole of Jesus teaching, his miracles, his ministry, this one, defines so clearly what we are called to do. We are to serve each other.
In today’s gospel, Jesus’ example is simple yet powerful. The one who is responsible for ALL of creation turns our world upside down by going as far as possible in the opposite direction of the world’s idea of power. The master becomes the servant so he can demonstrate his message of love, compassion, and mercy. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for another. Here, on the eve of his passion, he reminds his closest followers what they are called to do by this sacred, humble gesture of charity. As we come to the conclusion and crescendo of this season’s journey through Lent may we continue our conversion as we complete this journey with our Savior, Our Redeemer, Jesus Christ Our Lord.
Action of the day: Imagine Jesus washing your feet. Look into his eyes and allow his loving gaze to convey how much you are loved. He died for you and me. Now go and wash someone’s feet by showing them the love of Jesus through you.