So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
John 13: 12-17
"There are many religions which know no divine welcome
to the sinner until he has ceased to be one. They would
first make him righteous, and then bid him welcome to
God. But God, in Christ first welcomes him, and so
makes him penitent and redeems him. The one demands
newness of life; the other imparts it. The one demands
human righteousness as the price of divine atonement;
the other makes atonement in order to evoke
J. S Whale
He who is Lord and Teacher gave His disciples, the Twelve and us, an example to follow.
If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.
If Jesus Christ could stoop to wash the feet of His betrayer, how can we possibly feel too good to serve anyone? Did Judas deserve to have Jesus wash his feet? Of course not! How, then, dare we exclude anyone whom we judge not to deserve our help?
If we want to be known as Christians we must follow His example.
Love like this has never been, nor will it ever be, popular. Most of us church-people feel, deep down, that we are better than the drug-addicts, the prostitutes, the thieves, and killers who populate our society. We don’t want to live around these people; we don’t want our children around these people; and they surely don’t deserve our help.
Jesus doesn’t allow any other explanation. There is no Christian love where there is no willingness to serve others at their point of need.
If I then, your Lord. . .
Pride often hinders us from accepting other people. So Jesus addresses this attitude head-on. “You call Me “Lord;” the “Christ;” the “Son of God.” If Jesus wasn’t “too good” to wash feet, who are we to think we are?
For what does a mortal think he is, when he refuses to bear his brethren’s burdens, to fit in with his customs and, in short, to perform the duties by which the unity of the Church is upheld?
Jesus is telling us loud and clear: If there is anyone you think is undeserving of your help, you are thinking way too highly of yourself!
At Easter the Pope washes the feet of twelve people. This year he caused quite a commotion because he washed the feet of a woman and a Muslim. Pope Francis understood what Jesus was saying about no one being excluded from Christian service. But Jesus was giving us an example, not a ritual or even a sacrament. “Washing feet” is a euphemism for being willing to serve in any way which is needed. Most of us probably don’t know many people who have feet that need washing. But they have other needs. It is the calling of every Christian to care enough to look for those needs.
Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master. . .
Jesus underscores His message with words no honest person can refute. If we confess that He is our “Master,” then we are obligated to follow His example.
blessed are you if you do them.
Professing a faith that does not compel a person to follow the teachings of its leader will never bless that person. Claiming a religion without making a concerted effort to both learn what it teaches and to practice those teachings in daily life is self-delusion.
If I did [believe what my Christian faith teaches] life would be more noble, more interesting, because it would have an ultimate goal – that of continuing. If I were a profound Catholic . . . I’d be a man of greater force and more clear minded, because I’d have a precise purpose to prepare myself for. But since I fear everything will end in death, I say, “What do I care?”
To experience the nobility of Life, we must follow Christ’s example.
Most holy and merciful Father;
We confess our sinful nature
prone to do evil and slothful to do good;
and all our shortcomings and offenses.
Thou alone knowest how often we have sinned;
In wandering from Thy ways;
in wasting Thy gifts;
In forgetting Thy love.
But Thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us;
We are ashamed and sorry for all we have done to displease Thee.
Teach us to hate our errors;
Cleanse us from our secret faults;
And forgive our sins;
For the sake of Thy dear Son.
Help us to live in Thy Light and walk in Thy ways;
According to the righteous commands of Thy Holy Word.
In Jesus' name we pray.