The reading today from St. John’s gospel reminds me of the call to service that is the mark of being a disciple or Christ. Jesus insists on the service dimension as the key to being one of his disciples.
He expresses this to the disciples in triplicate as they travel from Galilee to Jerusalem. Especially in Mark’s gospel where, in chapters 8 to 10, he tells them three times of what will happen to him in Jerusalem. He will be handed over to the authorities, be tried, convicted, put to death and be raised three days later. Each time the disciples misunderstand him and fail to respond adequately to what he is saying; and each time he teaches them what discipleship means. The disciples are definitely not ready to hear what he says to them. That readiness will only occur only after the resurrection.
The focus on disciples-as-servants and today’s gospel comes home dramatically in the ritual of Holy Thursday when the main celebrant and others act out that part of Jesus’ farewell address to the disciples when he washes their feet. To enter into the ritual of the washing of the feet is to get caught up in the invitation to discipleship.
When I am involved with this part of the Holy Thursday liturgy, I find myself at one of those “put your money where your mouth is” moments. To engage in the ritual and not to see its connection with my daily life is to miss the point of Jesus’ words and deeds about service.
I can find myself like the disciples in their misunderstanding of Jesus’ words and deeds. I need, then, to be reminded of the call to serve as the essential of my discipleship. The Holy Thursday liturgy does this more than adequately.
Help me to recognize the invitation to “wash the feet” of others in my everyday life. Lord, I pray that you keep me open especially to those persons and situations that cry out for your presence to them. Let the dramatic events of Holy Thursday continue to speak to and invite me into discipleship.
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