Friday, April 18, 2014
Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and the Last Supper
The readings for Holy Thursday cite two different acts of Jesus that evening before Gethsemane: the institution of the Eucharist, and the washing of his disciples' feet. The first is obviously important when you accept the Eucharist as a sacrament. The second is not so obvious, but praying about it, I can offer some thoughts. The obvious significance is two-fold: humility and service, but there seems to be more. In the opening verses, we are told that Jesus was aware that the hour had come: he was soon departing out of this world to the Father, and he who loved his own -- his disciples -- in this world would now show how perfect his love was. One translation says that "he loved them to the end." Here is Jesus preparing to leave, but his disciples would have a long way yet to walk this life, in this world. They have been prepared previously, washed and thus "clean all over" as he tells Peter who wanted to be washed all over. Jesus points out that only his feet now needs washing. Why? I think it's about the journey. Just as they need food to sustain them, they need to wash the dust and dirt off their feet. Getting them dirty is inevitable along the way, just as are the scars, wounds and even the corruption of the world that opposes Christ. We need to clean them up as soon as we're aware of them, and who better to notice than someone else, an objective party who can see what you cannot. This service is also part of communion. So, food for the journey in the Eucharist, and washing the dust off one another in the meantime. Jesus makes these provisions in his compassion because he knows we'll need them, and like a good parent, he prepares his children not only to do this for themselves but, more importantly, to do this for one another. To me, this means not only the receiving the Eucharist, but celebrating the Eucharist as a community, within which we can serve one another, such as in encouraging one another, instructing one another and providing spiritual direction: a one-on-one ministering in the interior life and apostolate. I am grateful to have a director, and hope to serve others likewise if they'll have me, but I don't know if I am ready yet.