His Model for Our Life
Daily Reflection – 4/18/19
Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end. The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over. So, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Master, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.” Jesus said to him, “Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over; so you are clean, but not all.” For he knew who would betray him; for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.” So when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”( John 13:1-15)
In the Gospel of John, the distinctive action of Jesus at this meal that is recalled is his washing of the feet of the disciples. It is an act of humble service usually performed by a slave. In washing their feet at this moment, Jesus is summing up a life of service to the God he called “Abba” and to God’s people. What he does at this table is emblematic of what he has been doing all along as he walked with his disciples. This act, too, anticipates the meaning of the cruel death he is about to undergo. As unjust and senseless as his crucifixion may be, his death will be invested with meaning because it will become one final act of service to God and to the human family.
After he finishes washing the feet of his disciples, Jesus tells them, “If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet.” As people of the Eucharist, we are privileged to receive Christ’s gift of self to us – the greatest gift we could ever receive on this earth. We are blessed to experience real communion with Jesus, a genuine sharing of presence that is the heart of this wonderful sacrament. The Risen Christ, who shared this meal on the eve of his own passion, hosts us and serves us each time we gather to celebrate the Eucharist. As people of the Eucharist, you and I are also called to be people of the basin and towel. We are invited to emulate this Jesus through lives of loving service to others. We are called to wash the feet of one another.
Bread and wine, basin and towel. This is the “stuff” of Christian life. These symbols are at the very center of our identity as followers of Jesus. For young adults, and for adults of all ages today, these symbols represent an ongoing challenge. They are countercultural because they challenge the “Me First” thinking that often prevails in our society. They signify an approach to life different from the one that tells us to look after the needs of others only after we have taken care of our own needs.
Prayer of The Day
Lord Jesus, Grant me the humility and charity to imitate your virtues. I wish to learn to wash the feet of others, so give me the grace to let down my defenses and simply reach out to do good, without worrying how others may react to me.
Jesus’ whole life was an example of service towards men, fulfilling his Father’s will to the point of dying on the cross. Here our Lord promises us that if we imitate him, we will find true happiness which no one can wrest from us. We need to reject from our hearts any pride, any ambition, any desire to dominate; and peace and joy will reign around us and within us, as a consequence of our personal sacrifice.
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