Washing Feet? Who, me?

I was thinking this week – would I wash someone’s feet? Talking with a friend about the gospel of John as we approach Holy Thursday, it started me pondering – how much do I love and serve other people? Who’s feet is God asking me to wash?

It is so easy to live in my own little bubble. My mind is taken up by my own worries. I consistently seek out what is next for me. Working for Fridays – so I can enjoy my life. I spend my time consumed by my own life, sometimes I do not even notice people.

Then I take time to read John’s gospel.

Jesus washed his disciples feet, as they probably sat there wondering who should be on his right and left hand in his kingdom. Washing someone’s feet – one of the most demeaning things a person could do for another. It was work fit for a servant, not the master. Afterwards, he could have said, I wash your feet so you may wash mine. That would have been somewhat expected. Yet, he said that they are to go and wash each other’s feet. Out of love and humility, we are to serve others, carry their burdens, love them, be Christ to them.

There are some incredible examples of this love. One of my favorites is Dick Hoyt, the father of a disabled son who runs triathlons and marathons with him. That is true love.

But, it does not have to be grand gestures. It could be dedicating 110% to your work, the smile to the annoying acquaintance, being cheerful when you are feeling down, staying up late to drive someone home. As Jesus said, what we do to the least of these, we do to Him…

A brief meditation on this from St. Josemaria Escriva:

It is Peter who speaks: Lord, do You wash my feet? Jesus answers: You do not understand what I am doing now; you will understand it later. Peter insists: You will never wash my feet. And Jesus explains: If I do not wash your feet, you will have no part with me. Simon Peter surrenders: Lord, not only my feet, but also my hands and my head. Faced by the call to total self-giving, complete and without any hesitation, we often oppose it with false modesty like Peter’s … May we also be men with a heart like the Apostle’s! Peter allows no one to love Jesus more than he does. That love leads us to reply thus: Here I am! Wash me, head, hands and feet! Purify me completely, for I want to give myself to You without holding anything back.

Be Sociable, Share!

    1 comment

    1. Bonita March 7, 2010 at 7:16 am

      Nice post. This is the second time that I have heard the unwillingness of Peter for Jesus to wash his feet as “false modesty” or “false humility”. My question would be : If Peter early on says to Jesus, “Depart from me for I am a sinful man” then why is he assumed to be falsely humble at the foot-washing? Although I am not a Biblical scholar nor a theologian and may not understand the terms as presented, I personally just never took it that way. I took it as someone being completely undone by just the thought of it-you might feel ashamed that someone of Jesus’ stature would be performing a menial task like that for you, especially knowing how unworthy you are- okay, you might feel embarassed, too- and you might have an awful thought that you don’t want to wash anyone’s feet, and if you are honest, perhaps not even Jesus’, and then you might ask that he “wash all of you” so that it becomes more of a “ritual bath” versus a servant’s washing dirt off your feet; and I think it would unsettle you at your core because of the very nature of what it is signifying and what it means for your own life-e.g. that if Jesus is willing and no matter how unworthy you feel, you must let Him wash your feet, then you better be prepared to do that and more for everyone else, and that can be a hard thing to even imagine, let alone do. I agree that there are many things we can do aside from literally washing feet. I also agree that sometimes a small act of charity can have an incredible impact and we need to be mindful of that (e.g. not always think we have to perform a huge gesture). I remember one day when I was just about ready to give up on graduate school (after the professor returned my paper for the third time!) and a fellow student came by and and said “What’s wrong? You look upset” and I (almost in tears) told him I didn’t think I could get through this class and was going to drop out of the program and he sat down & talked to me and encouraged me and made me see that I could do it and I eventually did and to this day I tell everyone that his kind gesture (that took maybe 5-10 minutes of his time) is the reason I finished the program and was able to graduate! So you never know! Sorry for such a long comment! Have a nice weekend!