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As I have done, so you must do.
A Justice and Peace Meditation for Holy Thursday


 

Readings: Exodus 12:1-8, 11 - 14 -- 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 -- John 13:1-15

Each year the Jewish people remembered their liberation from slavery in Egypt with the great Passover feast. It was during this time of the year that Jesus went down to Jerusalem, walking a journey of  solidarity with all human beings, even unto his torture and murder on the Cross.

At the supper that was lovingly prepared for our Lord -- no doubt by his Mother and the other women who followed him and, as the Gospels say, cared for his needs -- he rose from the meal, took a basin and a towel, and began to wash his disciples feet.

This caused some consternation among the apostles. Washing the feet of guests seems to be the work of a servant, perhaps even a slave. We can picture Simon Peter, pulling his feet back and saying, "Lord, you are not gonna wash my feet." But then Jesus teaches Peter about humility, and Peter becomes willing, not only for his feet to be washed, but also for his whole body to be cleansed.

After washing their feet, Jesus reclined back at the table and asked them, "Do you understand what I just did for you?

Jesus is Master and Lord, yet he does the work of the lowest house servant. He does this as an example for us. As Christ has done, so must we all do. A nice pious sentiment no doubt, that warms the heart, but when it comes to actually doing this. . . maybe the situation isn't so clear.  Narcissism is perhaps the defining value of this era.  We see it in our politics -- where we constantly demand that our private crusades and special interests become the law of the land; in our economics -- where looting the population to benefit the friends and campaign contributors of the politicians is the natural order of affairs; and in our religion -- where our relationship with Christ is privatized to the point that the gospel value of solidarity is hardly a consideration at all.

Tonight, across the world, the Church celebrates the Last Supper of our Lord. The custom of washing the feet of guests is not part of the hospitality traditions of most modern cultures, but the teachings on humility that this act conveys remain very relevant for us today in this high pressure "Winning Through Intimidation" world. Those who would be great must be the servants of all. This is as true for the Pope in Rome as it all of us today.

As Christ has done, so must we all do. 

And what, we should probably ask, has Christ done that we must also do? Well, just off the top of my head, without actually doing any research or delving into commentaries or concordances, or consulting any actual authorities on the subject. . . I can think  of healing the sick, comforting the afflicted, afflicting the comfortable, consorting with sinners, driving bankers out of the Temple, condemning religious and political hypocrisy, calling people to new lives of joy and peace, and not demonizing the poor for political gain.  He said some things like love and forgive your enemies, which  this nation completely forgot about on the morning of September 11, 2001.  We haven't had much use for that whole Sermon on the Mount schtick for several decades, come to think about it.  Indeed, the list of things we should NOT do is quite long, starting with "don't burn any children to death with bombs." 

I can hear the thoughts, "Enough already Bob with all this talk about burning children."  Not a chance folks, as long as we are in the business of killing kids and adults that get in the way of our imperial project, I will continue to call us to an understanding of what this actually means for us and for our salvation.  Hands up everyone who is willing to spend eternity in Hell for the greater glory of the American Empire!

So it seems to me there is still a lot of work to be done. We might as well get busy.  If we are to become what we eat, then there should be some evidence of this in our lives.

Prayer intentions today:

+ For all who are leaders, that they would exercise servant leadership in all that they do.

Praxis today:

+ Wash the feet of the poor and marginalized, that is, be in service to them today.

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