Daily Reflection
May 15th, 2003
Mary Haynes Kuhlman
English Department
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Acts 13:13-25
Psalm 89:2-3, 21-22, 25, 27
John 13:16-20

I suppose I ought to know something about this Gospel today, where Jesus teaches his apostles in the evening of his Last Supper, right after washing their feet.  This last Holy Thursday my husband and I had our feet washed by the Archbishop of Omaha.  While we would never have asked for this service, we had been drafted to fill the contingent of twelve parishioners, male and female, in childhood, young middle age, and -- um, let's say "older" age, to play our roles in imitation of Christ and his chosen Twelve.

We were very aware that we were continuing a ritual that was a ritual and a teaching even the first time it was done.  Jesus told his disciples that in washing their feet, he was giving them an example to follow.  Although the disciples surely didn't get wiped with the huge cushy bath towels supplied for us at our cathedral, and although Jesus surely wasn't assisted at every turn by hovering priests and deacons as was Archbishop Curtiss, we were doing our best to act the scene, to learn and to teach.
Before today's Gospel, we hear Paul's exhortation in the reading from Acts, tracing the history of God's care for his people, all leading up to the Incarnation of the Word in human nature, descended from David, and announced by John the Baptizer.  And so it is the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, who has got down and washed his disciples' feet in our Gospel, like the lowest of servants.  Then he teaches them: "Whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me."

So today I pray that I may remember that Jesus has sent me the people in my life: my family, my students, faces in traffic, those who pass by.  May I receive Him in receiving them.  My Christian faith and His own exhortation today tells me that when I receive Him -- as in both odd moments and deep sharing, in the Scriptures and in the Eucharist -- I receive God, whom Jesus calls "the one who sent me."

This is not something I can learn or teach just through having my feet washed, but the ritual was a reminder!  With our culture's frequent bathing and well shod feet, we don't usually need literal foot washing, but maybe we need all the more cleansing, tending, CARING for minds and hearts.  Our mortal world cries for our service to meet the real needs of others, both physical and otherwise, with love in imitation of the Love who loves us.

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