Feet-Washing: Day 7 of Lent
3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, 4 got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you c are clean, though not all of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
12 After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord–and you are right, for that is what I am. 14 So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. -John 13:3-15
FEET-WASHING. Normally, when invited to a meal in wealthier houses (like that of Mary of Jerusalem), there would be a servant waiting by the door to wash guests’ feet as they entered. Open-toed sandals and dusty roads meant that, even though guests had washed before they set out, this feet-washing courtesy ensured refreshed comfort for them (and for their companions!) during the meal. Jesus’ insistence on secrecy and privacy for this meal presumably meant no servants were there – and none by the door. The Twelve were all aware of the omission but none had the humility to offer to serve the others. When Simon objected to Jesus’ action and tried to give it some sacramental significance, he was clearly reminded that Jesus was simply doing, and prepared to do, “a servant’s job.”
I still find it hard to accept the idea of a humble God.
The Father of whom you teach me is not the kind of God that I expect at all.
The ways of your Kingdom are so different from what I expect
. . . and very different from what they expected.
It’s hard to see you on your knees -not exalted but on your knees -on your knees at my service, at my disposal.
And I’m not surprised at Simon trying to make it a kind of sacrament.
It’s hard to accept the reality, and the humility, of the Servant-King.
And it’s even harder to humble myself.
I don’t mind serving some people . . . those I love and like most of the time,
but to serve anyone at all, including those I don’t like, -that’s hard.
I like to be selective in my service.