Humility is the mother of all virtues…It is in being humble that our love becomes real, devoted and ardent. If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are. - Mother Teresa
Gospel Text: Jn 13:1-15
Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come
to pass from this world to the Father.
He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.
The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over.
So, during supper,
fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power
and that he had come from God and was returning to God,
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 and said 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 my 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."
For he knew who would betray him;
for this reason, he said, "Not all of you are clean."
So when he had washed their feet
and put his garments back on and reclined at table again,
he said to them, "Do you realize what I have done for you?
You call me 'teacher' and 'master,' and rightly so, for indeed I am.
If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet,
you ought to wash one another's feet.
I have given you a model to follow,
so that as I have done for you, you should also do.
Where are we in relation to this event?
Before we reflect on the act of Jesus washing his disciples feet, we must first examine his motivation behind this humble gesture – love. Jesus’s love for us has no limit of time or circumstances and no intermission (verse 1). “To the end” means more than “’til death do us part.” There is no limit to the love of Christ for His disciples. It began before the world was created and will continue throughout eternity. There is no circumstance that prevents Him from loving us. He loves us to the uttermost. His love is not on/off or up/down. It is constant, consistent, and continuous. Plainly spoken, He loved us all the way to the cross where He showed His love to us in that while we were still sinners against His holiness, He died for us.
I can remember back in 2007, while I was serving the poor in Calcutta, a man was brought into the home for the Dying and Destitute (Kalighat) that was emaciated and filthy. His skin, most especially on his limbs, was completely chapped from living on the street. The sisters asked me to rub oil on these limbs to give him comfort. When I approached the man, he indicated to me that he wanted me to rub the oil on his feet. For me to say that his feet were just “dirty” would be an understatement. Because of that, I was hesitant and the man could tell. He persisted to ask me to rub oil on his feet. So, finally I did. Once I placed my hands on his feet and massaged in the oil, the man started to weep in thanksgiving for my act of kindness. At that, I felt so guilty for not wanting to help this man, that I then wanted to weep myself.
Perhaps we all need to wash the filth of selfishness off of our own feet before we look around and find someone else whose feet we can wash. Christ, by His actions, made it very clear that He would not expect anything from us that He was not willing to do Himself.
When you receive Jesus' Eucharistic body and blood at Mass today, ask to receive His humility. Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord (1 Pt 5:6). After all, Jesus has washed your feet.