Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Basin and The Towel

He rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and dry them with the towel around his waist. He came to Simon Peter who said to him, "Master, are you going to wash my feet?" Jesus answered him and swid to him, "What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later." Peter said to him, "You will never wash my feet." Jesus answered him, "Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me." Simon Peter said to him, "Master, then not only my feet, but me hands and head as well." Jesus said to him, "Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over; so you are clean, but not all."
--John 13:4-10 (NAB)

Holy Thursday is less than two weeks away. It is then that we remember not only the last time Jesus breaks bread with those who He is closest to for the last time, but we also remember something He gave us that is just as significant. It was then, that by washing the feet of His disciples that He teaches us that is important that we give to those who we are closest to, as well. By doing this, it is a way that we, as Christians, show others that we can see Christ in them.
Washing of the feet, obviously, is symbolic - it symbolizes what it takes to love and serve others. Again, by doing this, the simple act of washing someone's feet, we are showing our love for God by showing mercy and compassion for someone else.
I remember when I was received into the church - I was a 35 year-old convert to Catholicism. On Holy Thursday before I was brought into the faith I was at that Mass, and because of my impending reception I was one of those the pastor at the time asked to sit in front of him and have my feet washed. It was a paradox of feelings; I was both honored and not worthy at the same time. Honored to be asked, and not worthy of the gifts I was to be given. And I knew this - still do, in fact. The actual washing of the feet is very powerful; between the warm water and the clean towel, and the feeling that I was on my way to becoming new, it was totally unlike anything else. I will never forget that. And I will never forget what it takes to be able to give that to another person.

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