Washing the Feet of Others
"Jesus has made Himself the Bread of Life to give us life.
Night and day, He is there. If you really want to grow in love, come back to the Eucharist, come back to that Adoration."-Mother Teresa
Hear we find ourselves at Holy Thursday bringing to close these Forty Days of our Lenten journey. Have we lived out our Lent to the point that we can say we have been transformed; truly transfigured? Have we died to ourselves so that we may be born anew come Easter morning? For me Lent is always a challenge within itself. I always desperately want to make it a “good Lent”; a Lent where I feel as though I proverbially walk in the ashes making hard physical sacrifices and then miraculously find myself changed at the end of the journey.
But maybe if I were to approach the Lenten season with less of a mindset to take on a penitential practice to do list and instead ask myself “How will I look more like the living Jesus at the end of these Forty days?”, perhaps I would ultimately have a “good Lent”.
Please don’t misunderstand; I firmly believe penitential practices are essential and more so very needed in this world of excess in which we live. My point however is that at least for me I can get lost in the myriad lists of what to do during Lent instead of focusing on who I should become.
Gratefully yet again thanks to the Divine grace of our loving Father, Jesus provides another opportunity to amend our sins, our misgivings, our misguiding’s through the Institution of the Holy Eucharist made manifest on that sacred Holy Thursday some two thousand plus years ago. Of the entire Easter Triduum Holy Thursday is by far the experience I hold so intimately dear to my heart and soul. I love Holy Thursday! It truly pours the heaviness of what Lent should feel like out over me. Clearly breaking open why we need to have penances in our lives. Holy Thursday marks the threshold of the Incarnation and Divine colliding before our eyes for our very salvation. He died for ME. He died for YOU. He gave ALL. He loved us to the end.
Unlike the Nativity, the events of that first Holy Thursday, marking the institution of the Eucharist, the first Holy Mass, and the institution of priests; was a very visible spectacle., much hung in the balance for the outcome of this evening. But most significantly through the events of the Last Supper peoples of all time were present in the mind and heart of Jesus as he created this sacred meal for us; his plan for our futures. The Institution of the Eucharist as Bishop Robert Barron states signifies “...meal, sacrifice and the real presence of Jesus... Jesus asks us to wield the power that he did— the power of a love that burns with vulnerability.”
Vulnerability? Have I allowed myself to be vulnerable enough this Lent to allow Jesus to flood every part of who I am, my soul, thereby washing me clean?
Facing an impending death as Jesus did, I am not sure many of us would remove our finest clothes, kneel before our friends and serve them by washing their dirty feet. But that is exactly what he did... as it says in John 13 ...He loved them to the end. Maundy Thursday as it has been called for centuries, has its root in the Latin word for "commandment," mandatum. It was here that Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves. He didn’t just say these words but he showed these words through his action of washing the feet of the Apostles; a job in Biblical times performed only by a servant, someone who was unworthy.
Jesus ACTIVELY loved his Apostles and he still ACTIVELY loves US. Jesus performed the ultimate sacrifice on the Cross anticipated by this meal; a meal and sacrifice that is repeated at each Mass.
As followers of Jesus do I deeply, completely comprehend the intimacy that Jesus longs to have with us? Do I truly internalize that “...the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE” is really Jesus present in the Holy Eucharist? At Mass it seems that because the physical appearance of the bread and wine have not become the physical living breathing body and blood of Jesus, that it is not truly Jesus. However we need to remember as Bishop Barron challenges, that the words of Jesus, the words of God literally change reality; they are reality.
Therefore the body and blood of Jesus do in fact change because the Word of God makes this to be the true reality. As we approach today’s events of Holy Thursday, I challenge myself and you to absorb the ultimate treasure and storehouse of the Divine Life poured out. Jesus is with us literally through the Eucharist, feeding us. By uniting ourselves with Jesus through actively loving all our neighbors, yes even the ones that hurt and betray us, by praying fervently as Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane, that practicing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy and the ultimate eating of the Eucharist, we too will have the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE within us so that we too may be transformed. Transformed into Saints that will have a seat at the heavenly banquet that awaits us.