Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself.
Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.”
Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.” After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Such a powerful image: Jesus, as servant to his disciples, washes their feet. Jesus demonstrates so clearly that I am to serve others, not necessarily by washing their feet—though there are plenty of opportunities for practical care—but by listening well and responding openly to others. May I see in my “washing another’s feet” the dignity of the person I face and also the tender reality of my own humbled dignity as servant. “As I have done for you, you should do also.”
This “Last Supper” was not an unplanned event. Jesus made choices about how this would proceed, from the selection of the venue, to having his closest disciples gathered with him, to the statement of washing their feet. In this setting, with closest disciples, just before his arrest, he transformed the ritual supper into a new participation in redemption. Now we are drawn together as disciples of Jesus the Christ. Here he presents to us his body and blood, uniting us as his body and directing us outwards, remembering who he is and what he has done for us.
—Fr. Jim Stoeger, S.J., a noted Jesuit educator, now serves as Vocation Director for the Chicago-Detroit and Wisconsin Jesuit provinces.
Lord Jesus, help me to respect the dignity of each person I meet…even amidst in the face of the world’s terror and violence as experienced this week in Belgium. . This Holy Week help each of us — especially those who are victims of terror — to trust in God’s boundless mercy, to reach out to all those in need, and to open ourselves to the goodness of one another.
Thank you for the gift of Eucharist. May our families, neighbors, friends, our church community each be united as members of your body. Help me, Lord, to recognize and revere your presence when people reach towards others and seek to include them in the benefits of our community. May I help to build and support and celebrate the community that you would have us become.
—Fr. Jim Stoeger, S.J.Please share the Good Word with your friends!