Readings: Ex 12:1-8,11-4; 1 Cor 11:23-26; Jn 13:1-15
A Model to follow; a model of service; bread broken and wine poured out for others. “I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, so you should also do.” Tonight we celebrate the institution of the Eucharist and the ministry through which the memorial of Christ is kept alive – the Priesthood. We celebrate the mystery of how we become “One Ohana” (family) in Christ through the celebration of the Holy Eucharist and in the sharing of His Body and Blood. In the Gospel of John however, the emphasis in tonight’s celebration is on the ministry that makes the Holy Eucharist possible under the image of Christ the “servant” who washes the feet of others.
Rather than present the institution of the Eucharist, St. John Evangelist gives a commentary on the Eucharist – The Holy Mass in the form of Christ’s foot washing. Tonight, Jesus first gives his final testament, then rises and washes the feet of his disciples. He then concludes with “as I have done for you, so you should also do.” Jesus stoops down from the height of his divinity and serves his own creatures. He asks us to stoop down as well. God comes to serve us, so we too may serve the least of society and care for the casualties of our society. Just as Christ becomes Food and Drink for us, we too become bread broken and wine poured out for others. On many occasions Pope Francis has shown us how we become food and drink for others. When he washes the feet of others he symbolizes what his ministry as Pope is meant to be – “servant of all.” We too can do this by giving our time, talent and treasure: our energy, our love to those who count for nothing, those whose God-given dignity is still veiled and hidden to the eyes of the world. We are called to reach out to the sick, the poor, the handicapped, the dying, the unborn, to those who are nobodies in the eyes of the world. So often, our society treats them as slaves or as nothing. Our sharing in the Eucharist is quite fruitless unless we become the bread broken and wine poured out for others. In the words of Mother Teresa, “we called to live simply so that others may simply live.” In so doing we become instruments of transforming people one at a time, leading them to be the best version of themselves.
Our Holy Father Pope Francis continues to show us what it means to stoop down like Christ. Yesterday, the Pope celebrated the Lord’s Supper at a detention center outside Rome. In all humility, Pope Francis washed the feet of twelve of these neglected prisoners (male and female), who never dreamed of having any attention in the world. That is what our stewardship must do for the least – to give them dignity, to give them more humanity and hope in this world. “As I have done for you, so you should also do.” This sets the stage for the Rite of the Washing of the Feet which is a powerful metaphor for the servant Church founded by Christ. This is what you and I must do if we are to be bread broken and wine poured out for others, as we symbolically wash the feet of others. A faithful steward is one who gives time, talent and treasure in the service of others so that they may have life in abundance, and so discover the best way to live. On this Holy Thursday, may we go at the end of the celebration and reflect more on the metaphor of foot washing in our lives. How do I wash the feet of others? How do we as parish ohana serve those in need in our midst and beyond? How do I as a member of a family wash the feet of other members of my family?
©2015 John S. Mbinda