Jesus gives us an example, a commandment, a mandatum: “wash one another’s’ feet”. Tonight’s Washing of Feet will remember Jesus’ action. “How, in our daily lives, can we wash one another’s feet?” Jesus’ words and action are more than exhortation. It is what love does.
God is Love. Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, because God is Love. It is what Love does.
Love clearly saw the apostles as needy. Love didn’t see them as “future princes of the Church” but weak men needing help; needing inspiration. Love foresaw their unfaithfulness in the coming storm, but still loved them. Jesus’ love even for Judas is clear, as he offered him the morsel of bread, dipped in the dish; a chance to repent.
Insofar as we act out of love, we do what God does. We invite God into our lives. Jesus loved Judas, even as Judas’ kiss betrayed him. Jesus loved Peter at the moment of denial; Jesus loved Nicodemus in his hesitant following; Thomas in his doubting; criminals crucified alongside him – one friendly, one aggressive; Saul who persecuted him. Even his victorious persecutors: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”.
Today’s focus is not on ourselves, as needy men and women, like the disciples. We are invited to watch Love in action. As we watch, we cannot fail to let this Love penetrate our hearts and minds; to follow its movement and note that all the love and goodness that comes down from above flows out to the needy; near and afar; young and old, Jew and Greek, Muslim and Christian. This is what God does. This is what Love does. This is what Christians do. Watching, may we learn and do likewise.
Ian Tomlinson SJ