Washing the feet: the way to Love

2013-03-28 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) Benedictine Abbott, Timothy Wright, spiritual director at the Pontifical Beda College in Rome explains the events we commemorate on Holy Thursday.
Holy Thursday – Abbott Wright explains – is the day of Jesus’ last supper with his disciples. It was a very special meal, for them and for him, and he wanted to make sure that it endured. So he did a number of things: he reminded those around the table that this was going to be his last supper, it was going to be a definitive moment, and that he was not going to partake fully of it until he had been through the process of dying and rising. They didn’t understand it. Who would? They celebrated the meal in the traditional Jewish way as a Passover meal remembering the events of the exodus – that is they were slaves in Egypt being brought out by their leader Moses through the Red Sea, the parting of the waves, then through the desert eventually to the promised land. And throughout the whole of that journey they were pursued by the Egyptian army and they managed to get across thanks to the intervention of God.
That event was traditional for the Jews and has been so ever since. Christ took it up as his last meal and he did a number of things that were particular. He took bread and said “this is my body” – no one really understood what that really meant. He took wine and said “this is my blood,” a new covenant for the forgiveness of sins, a new life. But before he did that, he sat his disciples down and said: “right – I’m going to wash your feet”.
Washing feet is a very menial task. A sign of the host welcoming the guest. A sign of recognition saying “you are important to me”. You are important to me because of who you are, not because of what you have done for me. You are important to me not because you are a sinner or a saint, but because in you there is the unique presence of God. And that is why I am showing to you that this is my service of you, my 12 apostles – and one of you is going to betray me – no matter, I will wash your feet because you are going to be the leaders, and it is you who then have to wash other people’s feet. Service is at the heart of the Christian Gospel. My service is to die and to rise and give new life. Your service is to go forward and to wash people’s feet to show this is the love that really counts…