Reading: John 13:1-17, 31-35
Scripture: Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” (John 13:8)
Reflection: The journey of Lent ends today, and we now move to absorb and celebrate the events of the Three Great Days that rekindle hope as we commemorate Christ’s suffering, dying and rising to new life. We, centuries after that first Holy Thursday, anticipate and delight in the Maundy ceremonies, which, to early disciples must have been unnerving as they had yet to understand the foundation on which our faith is anchored.
Those early disciples would have been familiar with the practice of having one’s feet washed after traversing the unpaved roads of Palestine. Apparently, their low social status did not dictate that any such provision be made for them. Their competitive pride prevented any offering/arranging to perform that courtesy for their Master – not by “the disciple whom Jesus loved”, nor the over-ambitious duo, nor even Simon Peter, the ever-present. John who consistently portrays Jesus as the respected leader, always in control of every situation, reports graphically that during that farewell meal, He overturns convention and undertakes the menial task of washing everyone’s feet – even those of Judas, His betrayer.
We have made much of impulsive Peter’s refusal to accept this gesture of love and humility, but how many of us would willingly accept this reversal of natural roles? Would you?
Regard it as false humility, an attempt to be different, a perverse need to attract attention but I, and I think most persons I know, would not. Maybe we have an ‘under-dog’ mentality, but generally, we like being the helper in most situations, nobly abandoning perceived and non-existent rank and status to avoid being “done to” or being dependent or obligated in anyway.
But it is Peter’s inability to receive that Jesus challenges. Accept that you need Me, He tells Peter, and He tells us, or you have no real relationship with Me.
Meditation: It is in the reciprocity and mutuality of giving and receiving that true humanity and Christian community are born.
Prayer: “The cup is our salvation, the bread, Lord, comes from you.
The water in the basin reminds us what is true:
Your love is your commandment to those who seek your way.
Now nourish us and send us, so we may serve today.”
(Carolyn Winfrey Gillette)
The St. Jude’s Writers
St. Jude’s Church
Anglican Diocese of Jamaica and The Cayman Islands
1 April 2021