The last three days of Holy Week are referred to as the Easter or Sacred Triduum, the three-part drama of Christ's redemption: Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
Not only my feet, but my hands and head as well. (John 13:9)
It’s common knowledge that if you walk barefoot in public places, you risk picking up all sorts of nasty microorganisms: E. coli, tetanus, and many different types of fungus.
Can you imagine how dirty people’s feet were during the time of Jesus? The apostles’ feet were probably tougher, more calloused, and just plain uglier than anything most of us have seen. No wonder it was the role of a slave to wash the feet of the wealthy—no one else would want to!
So you can understand Peter’s shock at the sight of Jesus stooping to wash his feet. Through his time with Jesus, he had come to understand that Jesus was the Messiah. Just to share a meal with him was an honor. So why in the world would this wise and holy man take on such a menial task? Jesus had to explain the importance of this gesture patiently before Peter would relent. And even then, Peter got it mixed up! Jesus had to wash only Peter’s feet because he already believed. His head and hands were already clean.
The significance of this act of humility is so profound that some have called it the gospel in miniature. Others have likened it to the Eucharist. God so loved the world that he sent his only Son to save us. And he still loves us so much that he bends down at every Mass to teach us, feed us, and refresh us. Both in the Incarnation and at Mass, he sends his only Son as a humble servant—all so that we can be filled with his life and transformed into his image!
On this Holy Thursday, focus on this truth: Jesus loves you so much that he is willing to wash your feet. He cares for you so deeply that he wants to tend to your every need, even to the point of feeding you with his Bread of Life and the cup of his own Blood. How loving and generous is our Savior!
“Lord, thank you for offering me a whole new life with you! Teach me how to love and serve as fully as you have done.”
O God, who have called us to participate in this most sacred Supper, in which your Only Begotten Son, when about to hand himself over to death, entrusted to the Church a sacrifice new for all eternity, the banquet of his love, grant, we pray, that we may draw from so great a mystery, the fullness of charity and of life.