March 29, 2018
by Maureen McCann Waldron
Creighton University's Collabrative Ministry, Retired.
click here for photo and information about the writer

Holy Thursday – Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper
Lectionary: 39

Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14
Psalms 116:12-13, 15-16bc, 17-18
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
John 13:1-15

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Preparing for the Holy Thursday Liturgy

Why is Peter so reluctant to have his feet washed?  Why does he resist?  The other disciples waited, maybe a little awkwardly, while their friend and teacher, Jesus, stripped off his outer cloak and knelt on the floor.  Jesus took their feet gently into his hands, and after a loving look, he washed them, drying them with the towel at his waist.  Then he gets to Peter.
So what is so different with Peter?  Why is he the one who flatly declares, “You will never wash my feet”?  When Jesus convinces him that “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me,” Peter agrees wanting to include his head and his hands in the washing.

But why was he so unwilling to have his feet washed at first?  Why are we?  What makes any of us drag our feet when it comes to accepting the responsibility of being a follower of Jesus? 

Jesus is clear in his message: If I have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet.

He tells us he is giving us an example of service to others.  “As I have done for you, you should also do.”

So why the reluctance to be a part of this?   Why do we not want to follow Jesus in that?  Maybe we are afraid; maybe just tired.  It may be just a matter of trusting in God.  For both Peter and us: maybe we don’t believe we are worthy.

If we accept the intimacy that comes with Jesus washing our feet, how can we possibly carry out this kind of extraordinary service?  Can we do it with the same love that Jesus did/does?
The answer is no.  Of course, we are not worthy.  Neither was Peter.  Even as Jesus washed Peter’s feet, he knew Peter would deny him, soon.  As he washed Judas’ feet, he knew he was loving and caring for his ultimate betrayer.

So we aren’t worthy.  Yet he washes our feet and puts our shoes back on sending us out into the world.   We are sent beyond this table, this dinner, to carry out his mission of love.  It’s the same mission we are sent on each week when we leave Mass: to carry our faith out into the world beyond the food we received at the table of the Eucharist.  Are we worthy?
In the words of Jesuit Philosopher, John Kavanaugh, S.J.,

“There is no one of us who does not need – desperately – God’s loving forgiveness. 
And there is no one among us so sinful who is not worth – endlessly – such a lavish gift.”

Loving God, open my heart to the love you offer me.  Let me get beyond my fears of inadequacy so I can trust that you are there with me in each step I take in service of others. Turn my fears into joy and my foot dragging into dancing.

Give me the wisdom to discern where you are calling me to serve, the strength to carry on when my courage grows faint and the heart to hear you call me to your work in this world.

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