“It is not fitting, when one is in God's service, to have a gloomy face or a chilling look.” - St Francis of Assisi
Gospel text (Jn 13,16-20):
When Jesus had washed the disciples’ feet, he said to them:
“Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master
nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him.
If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it.
I am not speaking of all of you.
I know those whom I have chosen.
But so that the Scripture might be fulfilled,
The one who ate my food has raised his heel against me.
From now on I am telling you before it happens,
so that when it happens you may believe that I AM.
Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send
receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”
Today, as with those movies that, at the beginning, take us back in time, our liturgy remembers a passage that belongs to the Holy Thursday: Jesus washes the feet of his disciples (cf. Jn 13:12). Thus, this gesture —read from the Easter perspective— recovers a perennial validity. Let us consider only three ideas.
In the first place, the centrality of the person. In our society it seems that to do is the thermometer to measure a person's worth. Within this dynamic it is easy for people to be considered as tools; we use each other extremely easy. Today, the Gospel urges us to transform this dynamic into service dynamics: the other party will never be just a tool. It would rather be a matter of living a spirituality of communion, where the other one —quoting John Paul II— becomes “someone that belongs to me” and a “gift to me”, whom we have “to give room” to. In our language we could translate it as “to care about other people's feelings”. Do we care about other people's feelings? Do we listen to them when they speak to us?
In our world of image and communications, this is not a message to transmit, but a job to be done, to live up to every day: «and blessed are you if you put it into practice!» (Jn 13:17). Maybe, this is why the Master does not limit himself to an explanation: He imprints into his disciples' memory his gesture of service, to pass it immediately on to the Church's memory; a memory that we demand to become a gesture, time and again: in the lives of so many families, of so many people.
Finally, a warning signal: «The one who shared my table has risen against me» (Jn 13:18). In the Eucharist, Jesus resurrected becomes our servant, He washes our feet. But the physical presence is not enough. We have to learn in the Eucharist and get the necessary strength from so that it may become a reality that «having received the gift of love, we die to sin and we live for God» (Saint Fulgence, Bishop of Ruspe).