“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.” – Jn 13:14-15
People who know they are about to die take special leave of their loved ones. Their last words and actions sum up their greatest hopes and desires for those they love. At the Last Supper, Jesus left his disciples two acts of remembrance. First, Jesus took the bread, blessed, broke, and gave it to his disciples. Second, he washed their feet.
Jesus summarized his own life when he took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to his disciples. He is chosen to reveal God’s boundless love, blessed at his baptism in the Jordan River, broken on the cross, and given as bread for all. Being chosen, blessed, broken, and given is the sacred journey of the Son of God, Jesus the Christ.
It is also our journey. We remember Jesus by recalling what he did. Moreover, the word “re-member” also means “to become more fully a part of.” Thus, we remember him when we live as people chosen, blessed, broken, and given as food for the world. We become the very body of Christ that is taken, blessed, broken, and given. Likewise, we remember him when we wash one another’s feet with a similar humble and self-giving love as he did. The Eucharist and feet washing are integral acts of remembrance. By remembering in these ways, we become more like Christ.
It’s so interesting to me that in the past 2,000 years of Christian history, the two clearest and consistent means of encountering Jesus are the Eucharist and feet washing (serving God’s poor). I am deeply moved by Pope Francis’ surprising choice not to celebrate Holy Thursday Mass at one of Rome’s many basilicas but at a juvenile detention center with many Muslims youths. He is washing feet “in remembrance” of Jesus. He is practicing what he preached yesterday: “Holy Week is not so much a time of sorrow, but rather a time to enter into Christ’s way of thinking and acting. It is a time of grace given us by the Lord so that we can move beyond a dull or mechanical way of living our faith, and instead open the doors of our hearts, our lives, our parishes, our movements or associations, going out in search of others so as to bring them the light and the joy of our faith in Christ.”
“Thank you, Jesus, for helping us to become more like you through the Eucharist and feet washing. With whom do you invite us to attend Eucharist or wash feet these days?”