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.
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
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.