Wash Others Feet

Yesterday was Maundy Thursday. It is also known as Holy Thursday, Covenant Thursday, and Last Supper. On this day, the Church reflects specially on the scene of Last Supper that Jesus had prior to his arrest that eventually led to his condemnation, scourging, crowning of his head with thorns, carrying the cross to Golgotha and finally cruel death on the cross. Providentially, this paved way for the Lord to save mankind from sin.
When we analyze the first part of the scene of Last Supper, one cannot but notice the most humbling act of Jesus. Here Jesus washes the feet of his disciples. This happens even as Jesus was well aware that “the Father had entrusted all things to him, and as he had come from God, and was going to God” (John 13:3). This act of Jesus may not sound appealing to our present world that is craving for position, comfort and pleasure. Often our world identifies the don-like figures and the cash-rich people as the most successful and influential people. In the mean time, the world overlooks those people who demonstrate their true strength and complicity through selfless service. However, it is such type of people who actually refurbish our capricious world. Against this background, Jesus challenges our world that is chasing the shadow of power, position, name and fame incessantly. Jesus tells us that it is possible and essential to bend low in order to reach out to others in service. We should let go of our ego and pride that often denigrates our true nature, that is, the imperishable yet coveted image and likeness of God in us. Jesus, even after having realized his dignity and honour, dared to bend low even in front of his enemy, Judas Iscariot, the betrayer. In fact, it takes uncompromising effort from our part to imitate this Jesus.
After having washed the feet of his disciples, Jesus invites them to wash others feet. It does not mean that thereafter the disciples were to wash the feet of others literally. Even as they were commissioned to wash others feet, if needed, they were to consider themselves as mere servants to others. The servant usually does not enjoy freedom. His freedom is normally curtailed. A servant cannot decide his future on his own. However, it is typically different for those who are servants of Jesus. Those who are willing to wash others feet do enjoy full freedom. First of all, this sense of letting the ego enables the person to say a big ‘no’ to sin. Secondly, the person is able to look at this world with a sense of sympathy. Such type of people, instead of whistle-blowing others infirmities, becomes more aware of one’s own iniquities. They are able to offer the world that is vitiated with all its volatile nature and seek God’s pardon and mercy. Lastly, by washing the feet of his apostles, both righteous and sinners, Jesus has revealed his absolute mercy and kindness. Hence, it is up to each of us to demonstrate our true strength by willing to serve even our enemies.
On this day, during the Holy Mass, the priest washes the feet of 12 selected men from his community symbolically. In this symbolic act, the Church wholly intends to convey the imperative messages of service, love, forgiveness, togetherness and humility. May, the Holy Thursday liturgy heal us of our fallen nature that often denigrates our true identity so that we may revamp the sublime messages of Jesus, that is, humility and mercy.
Rev. Fr. Loyola Antony
St. Joseph Church, Chumukedima