Washing of the Feet

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The WORD in other words (2022) by Fr Allan Mechan SVD – Divine Word College of Calapan

Thursday 4th Week of Easter

Jesus invited the apostles to be also involved in the washing of the feet, if the Church were to continue his presence and work on earth. This eminently physical interaction between Jesus and his apostles must surely have a central meaning in the Christian scheme of things: for the apostles, and eventually for all of us. Today many Christians still fulfill this commission at great cost, even death, as did happen with the apostles.

In our Christian liturgy, water has to do with penitence and reconciliation. The commentary of the Christian Community Bible on John chapter 13 stresses that Jesus “did not ask them to confess their sins, all he wanted was that they would humbly allow him, their Lord, to wash their feet.” Joseph Krempa adds, “What is distinctive about the Christian community and ourselves as Christians is not that we have conflict. What is important is that we reconcile with each other. This is what should distinguish us from others…we should be able to forgive and…be willing to accept forgiveness.” Every novice must show this attitude when he professes his vows as a member of a religious congregation like the Divine Word Missionaries, but this is expected of all members of the Church.

Through this washing of the feet and later the laying-on of hands by bishops and priests, every one of us has what is albeit a remote physical contact with Jesus. We are all called to wash the feet of others in different but often profoundly necessary ways.

In the past, many saints died helping victims of plague. However, at the time of the Covid 19 epidemic, the Church mainly remained in relative safety while heroic frontliners exposed themselves to danger. We had been warned not to cause the spread of infection, so we washed each other’s feet mainly through prayer and oral support. May we continue to see the need and be prepared to wash each other’s feet.

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