April 13, 2017
by Susan Naatz
Creighton University's Mission and Ministry
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

Holy Thursday Prayer

Preparing for Holy Thursday

Pope Francis Holy Thursday Homily - 2013

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Preparing for Good Friday

Preparing for the Easter Vigil

In today’s gospel we witness the extravagant love of Jesus who kneels in front of his disciples and one by one washes their feet.  I believe that they must have been breathless as he tenderly cared for each of them.  He was so deeply moved for he …knew that his hour had come to pass from this world…He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.  He understood that he was soon to say good-bye and he wanted to express himself in the tenderest of ways.  Peter tried to resist but Jesus persisted.  He wanted Peter to receive his gift so that when he was gone Peter and the disciples would wash the feet of others.

I have watched the video of Pope Francis several times when he washed the feet of people in prison on Holy Thursday shortly after he assumed the papacy.  Some were allowed to hold their children.  In one scene we see a mother holding her cherished baby.  The Pope gently washes the beautiful feet of the baby and then the feet of his mother and all the while the woman weeps.  With great reverence following the foot-washing, he kisses their feet.

Some of the men wept too when the Pope washed and kissed their feet and as I view the video and see the people weeping, I always weep with them.  Just as they were touched by the incredible act of selflessness extended to them by our Holy Father, I am touched as well.  It is a gesture that stirs deeply within us as he demonstrates his love and care for their precious lives. 

No matter what criminal act brought them to prison, it was dashed away as he bowed his head over their feet and gently washed and kissed away their pain.  The tremendous care which Pope Francis poured forth for them swept the watching world into that powerful moment of anointing.  Pope Francis was Jesus.

When someone extends their love and care for us at times in our lives when we are vulnerable, we are often moved to tears knowing that they are demonstrating how much we are loved.  When we are loved like this, aren’t we moved to love others as well? 

Did the Disciples weep when Jesus washed their feet?  Were they touched by this great act of care for them? Did he wash away some of the pain of their lives?  I believe they must have been deeply moved as they experienced their holy companion extend this depth of care for them and I imagine that some of them wept.

As we pray this Holy Thursday may we open our hearts to our God who will wash away our pain.  Then may we in turn find ways to extend ourselves to wash away the pain of others. 

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