April 14, 2022
John 13: 1-15
Holy Thursday. The Lord’s Supper. This first day of the Triduum carries with it so many meaningful remembrances and symbols. Pause for just a moment or so to bring just some of them to mind. When I do so my mind fills to overflowing with both remembrances and symbols: the ringing of the bells during the Gloria; the transfer of the most Blessed Sacrament with the singing of the Pange Lingua and Tantum Ergo; the memorial feast recounted in the reading from Exodus; the Washing of the Feet recounted in the Gospel of John; our blessing cup; bread and wine; the institution of the Eucharist and the words “Do this in memory of me.” found in the letter to the Corinthians. What is your favorite remembrance or symbol? Pause for a moment and let one or more of them touch your heart. And are you at all surprised, struck by the significant place the Washing of the Feet has in today’s celebration?
There is a song entitled Seed, Scattered and Sown. And in it are two phrases that really give me pause: “bread, broken and shared as one” and “one cup shared by all, the living cup.” If Eucharist doesn’t deeply connect us with both Jesus and our sisters and brothers, we’re missing the point. During the Washing of the Feet, a song we are invited to sing has this refrain: “I, your Lord and Master, now become your servant. I who made the moon and stars will kneel to wash your feet. This is my commandment to love as I have loved you. Kneel to wash each other’s feet as I have done for you.” (As I Have Done for You by Dan Schutte) Eucharist, receiving Communion, and love of our sisters and brothers, symbolized by the washing of the feet in today’s Gospel and ritualized, are inseparable and the central message of today’s celebration.
The Washing of the Feet is not a custom today as it was in the time of Jesus, something a good host would offer guests. So how do you and I “wash one another’s feet?” Mothers and fathers bathe their children and care for sick family members and nurses and nurse’s aides do the most personal of care for the sick and elderly. Do you bring a bowl of soup to an elderly neighbor now and again? What charitable organizations do you support? There is a myriad of ways to serve our sisters and brothers, both large and small. As you receive communion on this special day, recognize Jesus in you and in all those around you and ask, “how may I ever more generously serve my sisters and brothers?”
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.”
The Gospel of the Lord
Meet Sister Marilyn Kerber, SNDdeN