Gospel Reflections

Feast of Holy Thursday

John 13:1-15

Sunday Gospel Reflection by SisterJoan Mary Brown

Published: March 29, 2018


“He had always loved those who were his in the world, but now he showed how perfect his love was.”

“…Jesus got up from table, removed his outer garment and taking a towel, wrapped it round his waist; he then poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel he was wearing…” Texts with which we are very familiar and before reading on we know what is going to happen when Jesus approaches Simon Peter to wash his feet. “Lord are you going to wash my feet?” And Jesus replies, “At the moment you do not know what I am doing, but later you will understand.” I ask myself “What do I understand by the washing of the feet?” Year after year I have been present at this ritual but what does it really mean to me? Writing this reflection has been both a challenge and a privilege and perhaps I now understand a little more about the perfect love of Jesus in the washing of the feet..

“At the moment you do not know what I am doing but later you will understand.” The foot washing, unlike the Synoptics, is John’s account of the Last Supper … the Eucharist …the self-giving of Christ.

Jesus removed his outer garment … stripped himself … handed himself over to His disciples in service… this is my body given for you … “Never…” said Peter. “You shall never wash my feet.” Does Peter already understand that the foot washing is symbolic of Jesus laying down his life?  “You shall never lay down your life for me.” And Jesus replies, “If I do not wash you, you can have nothing in common with me.”

I asked myself what does it mean to have something in common with Jesus? Does it mean to be one in heart and mind? Does it mean to be prepared to lay aside self for the good of another? Does it mean to be prepared to change places with another? I think that by washing the feet of his disciples Jesus is changing places with them. He is changing the order of things, a new relationship. I no longer call you servants but friends… “A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends… You are my friends…” John 15:13

Jesus’ self-giving was not the redemption of the unworthy but an act of friendship. Friendship is the one human relationship based on equality even if it does not begin between equals. Jesus gave his life for his friends…

God so loved the world that he gifted his son to save not unworthy slaves but friends…equals. By washing the feet of his disciples, Jesus established a radically new order of human relationships, service is an expression of love between equals, not domination. “Do you understand what I have done to you? … I have given you an example so that you may copy what I have done to you.” Read the “Farewell Discourse” with this in mind.

One in heart and one in mind is a description of the relationship between Julie and Francoise. the women who founded our Congregation based on friendship and left us such a beautiful legacy of equality in our Congregation and the true meaning of service.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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