Even though it is only performed once a year, the washing of feet on Holy Thursday is a physical demonstration of how we should act every day of the year.
Through his selfless son, God our Father has demonstrated his love for us, his service and his unfailing devotion. The Cross was a pivotal moment in Christ’s life, when he went to his death for the salvation of many. And, it is pivotal in our life, too, here in 2021.
In today’s Gospel we hear Jesus spell out the ‘price’ of sitting at the Father’s right hand. To sit there is symbolic of being in power, and power is something coveted by most of us. Jesus reminds his disciples that it is through service, hard-won and painful service, that we attain such a seat.
‘Do you know what you are asking?’ That’s what Jesus asked them. In other words, ‘Have you any idea what it is like being me?’ It involves service even unto death.
Are we mindful of what it is to be Christian? The washing of feet is symbolic of the kind of work that we are called to perform. But the Gospels do not ask us to take this literally. Rather, our washing of feet could be listening better to someone who doesn’t share our views; it could be showing care to somebody we do not much like; it could be offering a little financial support to somebody in great need and not seek a reward, somebody who has no way of paying us back. If we do these things for earthly rewards then we are not following Jesus effectively. Our single reward should be communion with God, not the thanks of others.
The need for power is in every human, to some degree. Living the Christian life is in direct opposition to this, yet there is still a wide opportunity to go through the motions of Christianity in the pursuit of power: power over people, the power to head churches and communities, the power of having a special title or of being seen as important in a community. There is lots of it in Christianity. These are all ghastly temptations, and we will see them as such if only we hold them up to the profound humility of the Gospel message.
How, then, do we hold up our own lives to the Gospel message? It is through humility and selflessness that we can draw nearer to Christ through the world we live in. Service. That is the word. Service to our neighbours and, most importantly, service to those whom we would rather not give service. If we only like those who like us, then we are making very little Christian progress. So, let us love God in humility, approach him through the service of all, and devote ourselves to him as he devoted himself to us. Amen.
The Lord be with you.
And with your spirit
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark (10: 35-45)
Glory to you, O Lord.
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, approached Jesus. ‘Master,’ they said to him ‘we want you to do us a favour.’
He said to them,
‘What is it you want me to do for you?’
They said to him,
‘Allow us to sit one at your right hand and the other at your left in your glory.’
You do not know what you are asking”. Jesus said to them.
‘Can you drink the cup that I must drink, or be baptised with the baptism with which I must be baptised’
Jesus said to them,
‘The cup that I must drink you shall drink, and with the baptism with which I must be baptised you shall be baptised, but as for seats at my right hand or my left, these are not mine to grant;
they belong to those to whom they have been allotted.’
When the other ten heard this they began to feel indignant with James and John, so Jesus called them to him and said to them,
‘You know that among the pagans their so-called rulers lord it over them, and their great men make their authority felt. This is not to happen among you. No; anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be slave to all. For the Son of Man himself did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’
The Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.