A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John.
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.”
Good News Reflection:
Jesus did not come into this world to be served, although he is God and surely deserves it. He came to serve. He came to serve you. And through you, he wants to serve everyone you know.
After inviting us to sit back and enjoy being served by our wonderful God, Jesus says in the Gospel passage for the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper: “I have given you a model to follow — what I have done for you, you should also do.” His foot-washing ceremony is a model of service.
His model is very uncomfortable. It means loving others so much that we do good deeds for them, even for the people we dislike, those whose “feet” (behaviors, actions, the way they walk through life) are disgusting.
When we serve those who have not served us the way they should, we unite ourselves to Jesus by becoming Eucharist for them. What does it mean to “become Eucharist”?
First, we approach Christ in the Eucharist, and knowing that we are responsible for our own conversions, we tell him: “I am not worthy….” Then, after we receive him in the Eucharist, we return to our pews united to him. Communion means “with union.”
United to Christ, we are now as much the Eucharist as he is. At the end of Mass, we’re commissioned to go out and be Eucharist — be the real presence of Christ — in the world.
Years ago, God drove this point home to me. In a prayer meeting, I surprisingly found myself washing the feet of a priest who had betrayed his parishioners (and me and my family and some friends) through alcoholism and lust. I tell you, his feet were ugly! But much uglier was his refusal to accept the truth about his addictions and sins.
What did the foot-washing accomplish? It made a clear statement about mercy. And on a personal level, it gave me the opportunity to show him that I was willing to serve him if he was willing to accept it as part of a healing process. He wasn’t, and eventually the bishop removed him from parish ministry, but the foot-washing ceremony healed me of my own unwillingness to love unconditionally. Jesus washed my feet along with my heart. And I gained a much greater understanding of the love that Jesus has for me every time he washes my ugly feet (my sins).
Remember, though, that Jesus never gives up on anyone. Years later, he washed the feet of this priest with the gift of mercy through a redemptive time of earthly purgatory, which took the form of a painful disease that began in his feet and spread. As he endured pain that medications couldn’t totally eliminate, he humbly allowed the disease to purge him of his pride and his addictions. In this, he experienced Jesus embracing him with passionate love before he died.
I praise You, Lord Jesus, for Your abundant love that rescues, comforts, and heals. Help me to imitate You by serving my brothers and sisters. Amen.
For another reflection on the Last Supper, which is printable for distribution, go to Catholic Digital Resources at catholicdr.com/calendar/Lent/HolyThursday.htm. Thank you for sharing the Good News!
© 2017 by Terry A. Modica