After the homily I will wash the feet of some members of the congregation: Ugo a Ph. D student; Diana our cook; John a lecturer; another John who works in the two universities; Silvia a religious; Leon a masters’ student; Stephany and Kevin, altar servers. This is not theatre. It is Jesus’ message about how we are to treat one another in the community.
Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. He wiped them with a towel. He needed to kneel down on the floor. During the Passion we often see Jesus “on the floor”. After the Last Supper he retired to the garden of Gethsemane. There, “sorrowful to the point of death,” he fell on the ground and prayed. As he carried the cross up Calvary, Jesus stumbled and fell to the ground three times;. This we remember at the third, seventh and ninth stations of the Way of the Cross. Finally, stripped of his clothing, stretched out on the cross, laid flat on the ground, the soldiers hammered the nails into his hands and feet.
For the most part the Gospels present Jesus as active; teaching in synagogues; in the Temple; travelling by land and sea; healing, curing; in charge. But now he is passive; things are done to him; he suffers as a condemned criminal. If we can get a sense of Jesus on the ground, stumbling, falling prostrate, we might begin to comprehend something of God’s love for us; the tremendous love of the Creator for the creature. By humbly yielding to the injustice of the cross, Jesus, God, saved us. He saved us from the effects of sin. He offered us freedom and the gift of eternal life. The cross is truly a love story.
In the Washing of the Feet Jesus reminds us of his love for all men and women by loving his own disciples. Servants, disciples wash their master’s feet; not the master his servants’, disciples’ feet. Why does the priest wash the feet of members of the congregation on this night at the beginning of the Passion? To remind us how we are to relate to one another; how we are to treat one another; to love one another.
This week’s news reminds us of the work of evil in our world: a military leader jailed for crimes against humanity; a footballer jailed for criminal sexual activity; community destruction and mayhem in Brussels. Jesus’ washing of his disciples’ feet has much to teach us.