Gospel Reflections

Feast of Holy Thursday

John 13:1-15

Feast Day Reflection by Sister Maura McMenamin

Published: April 13, 2017


Jesus knew that his hour had come

There are several threads to this Gospel narrative and we cannot explore all of them here. Jesus’ action is prophetic - prophetic of the GREAT SACRIFICE - death on the Cross

One such thread is the WASHING OF THE FEET OF THE APOSTLES BY JESUS. Jesus rises from the table and proceeds to wash the feet of His Apostles. All seems to go according to plan until Jesus comes to Peter. Then the impetuous and loving Peter refuses with the statement, “You will never wash my feet.”  Jesus immediately tells Peter, “Unless I wash your feet, you will have no part of me.”  Later Jesus will say “Do you realize what I have done for you? I have given you a model to follow.”  This washing of the feet has profound implications not just for the Apostles and the early Church, for the Church through the ages but also for the Church of today. As history tells us, the Church has failed again and again. Washing the feet became, for many, merely a ritual on Maundy Thursday. There are of course exceptions to this failing. (St. Julie and Mere St Joseph were such exceptions.)

Under the leadership of Pope Francis, each one of us is invited to ponder these words deeply. Just as Jesus reversed the so-called social ritual and washed the feet of his apostles, we are called to serve others whatever our status. Does Jesus challenge us the same way? We cannot claim to be followers of Jesus unless we follow his example of service to others.

As the saying goes,” actions speak louder than words.” Washing the feet of others entails recognising the needs of others. Do we still fail to see the service Jesus demonstrated? What does it mean to be part of Jesus?

Another thread is INSTITUTION OF THE EUCHARIST

According to Nicholas King, Jesus is offering a new understanding of Eucharist, namely that we are not celebrating the Eucharist properly unless we bring to it or take from it a commitment to service, even menial service. This probably challenges us to reflect on the context in which we celebrate the Eucharist and given the variety of personalities who celebrated the first Eucharist with Jesus, who should we invite to celebrate the Eucharist? This is a great challenge for the Church and will take much prayer and reflection to resolve. Do we bring to or take from our celebration of the Eucharist a commitment to service, even menial service? Do we pray for a greater openness of the Eucharist to others?

BAPTISM The washing of the feet has overtones of baptism, if we consider Peter’s statement, “Not only my feet but my hands and my head as well”  This reflection is for another day!

 

 

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