My first thought when Fr. Mike called to invite my then young family to have our feet washed during the Holy Thursday Liturgy was be sure to schedule a pedicure before Thursday! Although we had been attending Sunday Mass for a few years, that was to be my first Holy Thursday Mass. My ignorance was truly my bliss. As I sat in one of the 12 chairs, facing the rather large congregation and looked up after kicking off my sandal (I certainly didn’t want my foot to get sweaty and stinky in a shoe), the honor of being asked, quickly turned to anxiety.
At that moment, I was not cognizant of the powerful significance of reenacting Jesus’ humble act of bending down to wash the Apostles’ feet. Jesus’ profound message of, “For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you,” (John 13:5) meant nothing to me. The initial discomfort quickly faded as I beamed with pride at my cute little family, sharply attired and my toes beautifully painted. I eagerly hoped all eyes on us saw the perfect family I was trying to project. Sadly, that was all I took away from that experience.
MY HOW TIMES CAN CHANGE
Fast-forward just five years and everything had changed. My life had been completely transformed by a simple invitation to small group bible study. During that time studying the Word of God, I discovered He loved me enough to send HIS only son to die for my sins so that I may have eternal life. Jesus, that beloved Son, became my friend. Then came my family’s second invitation to participate in the Holy Thursday feet washing; my sons, pre-teens, declined but my husband and I accepted.
My chair was placed at the very end of the row, next to a young woman confined to a wheelchair. Celeste was at Mass every week with her Dad, who was single after his wife abandoned their little family. She smiled, cooed, and clapped all throughout the Mass. Her delight at the privilege of coming to the table of the Lord always captured my attention and reminded me to delight in my partaking of this same privilege.
A MOMENT TO REMEMBER
As Father Henry moved down the line towards us, Celeste’s squeals grew in intensity. That was Jesus coming to meet her—coming to meet us. I slipped off my shoe, and then my sock, exposing my “desperately in need of a pedicure” toes. My heart, now in tune to the magnitude of this moment, overflowed with gratitude to my Father in Heaven. The tears welled and flowed. My head lowered, partly to shield the tears from those witnessing and partly to keep the moment from slipping away too fast. I, like Peter at the moment of the Transfiguration, wanted to remain there with my Lord forever.
Each Holy Thursday and Good Friday, we are presented the most amazing gift to transport ourselves back to those nights when the world was changed forever. When the Word became flesh, dwelt among us, and then offered himself for the expatiation of our sins.
LECTIO DIVINA: John 13
Included in each chapter of Walk in Her Sandals: Experiencing Christ’s Passion through the Eyes of Womenis an opportunity to prayerfully read a scripture verse based on the week’s focus. The selection for Holy Thursday comes from John 13:1-20.
The Lectio Divina method consists of reading the Scripture passage once though. Then reading it a second time a bit slower. On your third reading underline or note words or verses that seem to be speaking directly to you.
Next contemplate the following:
WHAT MOVED ME
MEANING AND MESSAGE
Who hasn’t wondered if Jesus knew his fate as he was entering Jerusalem? John’s words touched my heart as if they had been bold-faced. He knew, Jesus knew.
Jesus is referring to Judas, as the one who is not clean. Am I the only one who feels they vacillate between being Peter (after the whole denial thing, of course) and being Judas? Even when I am more like Peter, I still get dirty. Jesus’ words remind me that although cleansed in my Baptism, there is a part of me that requires occasional cleansing—my soul. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is the “washing of the feet” for my soul. Although I cannot copy Jesus’ model of forgiving others in the same way a Priest can; I am able to pay this example forward by encouraging others to visit confession, especially during the Lenten season.
BLESSED ARE WE
As followers of Christ, we are presented many opportunities to recognize how truly blessed we are. Blessed was Mary who believed what was spoken to her would be fulfilled. Do we believe what has been revealed to us through the generosity of God in His Son – Jesus will be fulfilled? Blessed are we willing to humble ourselves, follow Christ’s example, and serve others.
Jesus, help me to respond to the Father’s generosity as you did by humbly serving at home, at work, and in the community. May your words, “a servant is not greater than his Master” guide my thoughts and action every day.
All Rights Reserved, Allison Gingras 2017