(John 13: 1-15)
It’s Passover night, and at this intimate moment with Jesus at the Last Supper, Jesus does this amazing thing. He bends down and washes their feet. Then he asks them: “Do you realize what I have done for you?” I want to offer three little points.
First, I invite you to imagine this scene, to imagine Jesus bending over and washing your feet, and then to reflect on the model Jesus is giving us and how we too can bend over and serve the people around us more and more.
Second, remember that in the previous chapter, a woman bent down and poured oil over Jesus’ feet and washed his feet with her tears and anointed him and prepared him for his death, and how Jesus learns from her and does the same thing for his friends. She anointed him to prepare him for his death on the cross, and so he anoints his followers to prepare them for their deaths on their crosses. So tonight, the Gospel invites us not only to serve one another, but to prepare one another to go to the cross, to help each other walk the way of the cross, to anoint one another in preparation for our deaths, our crosses, and as we do this, the Gospel says we will be greatly blessed.
Finally, we remember that at this great moment, when Jesus loves us and serves us and calls us to love and serve one another, how do the disciples respond? They betray him, they deny him, and they abandon him. They all run away from him! If that happened to us, how would we respond? We would be hurt and angry and say, “Why are you betraying me and crucifying me?” But Jesus is completely different. Instead of blowing up with anger or holding a grudge, he reaches out with even greater love and says, “I want to be your friend. I want to be your food and drink. Here is my body and blood for you. I love you that much. I want to be with you that much. I want to be your loving, intimate savior and God.” So I invite you to reflect on the loving, compassionate, forgiving response of Jesus, as he gets hurt and rejected from all sides, and to see how we can respond more and more like Jesus with that same love, compassion and forgiveness.
I invite you to stay and pray for a while in the chapel tonight and tomorrow, to be with Jesus at the Last Supper, to let him wash your feet, to reflect on the gift of his body and blood, to keep watch with him in Gethsemane, to stand by him as he goes to his trial and condemnation and torture and death, and to pray for the grace not to betray Jesus, not to deny Jesus, not to abandon Jesus, but to be with Jesus, to walk with Jesus the way of the cross, and to do what he says, to serve one another, to love one another, to forgive one another, to wash each other’s feet and help each other prepare for the cross, so that we can follow Jesus for the rest of our lives even to our own deaths and into the new life of resurrection.
Holy Thursday, 2004
(John 13: 1-15)