It’s astonishing to ponder the many generations which have passed down the story of Christ’s institution of the Holy Communion, His betrayal at the hands of his friend, and His washing the feet of the disciples. The earliest image I found of the stories we tell tonight was a thousand years old; the most recent, less than twenty.
As soon as I saw this image, I could immediately identify with it. Peter is getting his feet washed and scratching his head at the same time. He is clearly thinking “I am doing what Jesus told me to do, but I don’t understand it.”
When I first lifted my foot to be washed by another person, it was because Jesus told me to; I didn’t understand it. When I first washed another person’s foot, it was the same. I was doing it because Jesus told me to; I didn’t understand.
I trusted that even though the act was uncomfortable and surprising, Jesus had a reason for telling His disciples that unless we participate, we have no part with Him (John 13).
As a parent, sometimes I need to tell my children to do something they do not understand. Sometimes I cannot fully explain. Sometimes I just have to trust they will understand later. (Yes, this applies to taking my children to church for the Triduum liturgies.)
As I have washed feet and had my feet washed over the years, I have come to understand more than I did at the beginning. I have come to understand that Christ calls us to be servants of one another. The symbol of that is the washing of feet.
I still don’t fully understand the practice of footwashing. But this year I will again participate, because I know I need to grow as a disciple. I will offer my feet to be washed and wash the feet of another. I will participate because Jesus tells me to.
A Prayer for the Day
Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
[Image: By Sibeaster (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]
How do you observe Maundy Thursday?