March 24, 2016
Holy Thursday of Holy Week
The good news for the Day
So when Jesus had washed their feet, put his regular clothes back on and returned to his place at the table, he said to them, “Do you have any idea what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘someone in charge,’ and that’s right—that’s what I am. If I AM in charge and a teacher, and have washed your feet, you should wash each other’s feet. I have given you a model to follow: what I have done for you, you should do too.” (John 13, 12-15)
In this Good News Jesus shows you the “way to go.” Churches imitate Jesus with a ritual of foot washing on Holy Thursday. These last few years, this ritual Pope Francis has chosen to “model”—like Jesus—washing the feet of “real people,” not just priests—the feet of women, prisoners, Muslims. The breaking of the bread—which John does not mention—is simply another facet of self-giving—symbolizing love for others.
Ritual symbolizes—symbolizes here an attitude and behavior to mark your whole life—serving others. Jesus does here what a slave or servant did in his day—to ease hurt feet of thin-soled travelers, to show practical kindness for a tired visitor, and to start a welcome for someone of value.
You see past their dirty feet. You acknowledge the dignity of everyone. You act to make them feel better—more honest, kinder, happier. What you do begets sharing in the “realm of what’s right”—the kingdom of God.
Through nature, God provides food and clothing—not to mention oxygen. He cares. Jesus puts this care into visible form—another version of breaking his body and feeding you—giving blood towards New Life. That is Holy Thursday—waiting on others, sharing your self, being of service.
It is God-like to wash feet—to do any selfless kindness. It shares the very life of God to serve others, to be of service, to give yourself.