washing of the feet
Holy Thursday 2020
Deacon Tom Vert
Preached: April 9, 2020
“Do you know what I have done for you?”
Jesus finishes the washing of his apostle’s feet, puts his outer robe back on and looks at his apostles and asks them this question.
And I think, he looks at us and asks us the same question!
But let’s go back – Picture yourself in the apostle’s place:
Normally, in that time, at the door there would be a bowl of water and a towel by the door as the roads were dusty and they wore only sandals. People’s feet would get very dirty and when they entered someone’s house, the water and towel were there to help them clean up.
If someone were rich or powerful, they would have a slave or servant clean the people’s feet for them as a service of course and also probably as a sign of their power.
The apostles are used to having the lowest member of society, the slave, performing this function and I am sure that Jesus kneeling down and washing their feet was shocking for them!
This was the Master, the Messiah, the future King of Israel! There is no way that he should be washing the feet of other people!
Why do you think Peter had the reaction he did? Imagine the apostle’s faces when Jesus stood up – that is why he asked the question – “Do you know what I have done for you?”
These are questions that we can always ask ourselves, but tonight Christ asks it of us – Do you know what I have done for you?
- Do we really know that He came to earth for us to bring us back to a close relationship with God?
- Do we really know that He came to give us an example in life – that if we follow His model of how to love God and love our neighbour, then the “kingdom of God”, the strong, close, loving relationship with God is available to us here and now?
- Do we really know in our hearts that the Eucharist we celebrate tonight and at every mass is a gift given to us by Jesus himself – “Do this in memory of me” – Why? So that we can have a physical sign that we can see, touch, and taste that shows us that Christ is present with us right now!! He is not far away and untouchable but here and available to us as a friend on the journey of life.
- Do we really realize that Christ gave us this model to follow – “as I have done for you, you should also do”?
In some ways, this should not be a surprise for us as we see this mirrored in our daily lives.
Who else could say this that would help us understand how much God loves us?
- What if our mothers said to us “Do you know what I have done for you?” every time they changed a diaper, cleaned up a child’s spill, stayed up through the night when we were sick, cried with us when our bones or our heart was broken – each time they show us God’s love!
- What if our fathers said to us “Do you know what I have done for you?” every time they taught us how to ride up bike or shoot a puck or build a snowman – many times after falling or missing dozens of times and yet they patiently helped us to try again; or when they pick us up at 2 in the morning when we call, or scrape the ice off the car for us before they leave at 5am for work – each time they show us God’s love!
- What if our spouse said to us “Do you know what I have done for you?” every time they make us a beautiful dinner, take out the garbage for us, take us out for a surprise for no reason at all or just sit, put a blanket on us, and watch TV with us when we are sick – each time they show us God’s love!
- What if our child said to us “Do you know what I have done for you?” every time they make a picture for our fridge, a mud pie for dinner, clean their room without being asked or help their brother or sister with their homework – each time they show us God’s love!
The great news is that as we recognize these moments in our lives when God is acting through us, and around us; He challenges us to do the same – to show the same love as He did when he washed the apostle’s feet.
This is what we are challenged to do in the faith life – to get out of ourselves and instead to be of service – to wash the feet of another – and to show God’s love in the things of everyday life.
As St. Mother of Teresa says – Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love!
Over these next few days of Easter – I would like to ask you to ponder Christ looking at you as He kneels before you and and asking: “Do you know what I have done for you?”
Holy Thursday 2018
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: Mar 29 2018
The presence of someone we love matters. We desire to be with, to be present with those we love. This is why we experience grief when a loved one lives far away, or when they move away, or most painfully when a loved one dies. We grieve the lack of their presence with us. The missing presence of a loved one is difficult.
Our God grieves. Our God loves us in a way we can barely grasp. So, this God wants to be with us, in our presence. Longs to be near to us. Jesus is God’s presence near us in this life, in our human history. But, Jesus also desired a way to remain present to us after his death and resurrection. Tonight on this Mass of the Lord’s Supper we recall and celebrate two ways in which the continued presence of Jesus is available to us. The Eucharist and the Priesthood.
In the Eucharist we speak of the Real Presence. In bread and wine, Jesus is Sacramentally present to us. When we receive Holy Communion, Jesus is coming to us, to be present with and in us. Simply, Jesus loves you, wants to be with you, in the Real Presence of the Blessed Sacrament we are able to experience that presence of Jesus.
In the Priesthood, it is in a normal man, a sinful and failed human being like all of us, that Jesus is present to offer teaching, forgiveness, grace. We speak of the priest as “in persona Christi”. In the person of Christ. In the Sacraments the priest stands there in the person of Christ bringing grace. When people come to a priest, to ask him to pray for them, ask him to bless something or someone, to share a personal struggle, they are coming to meet Jesus. When they come to a priest they want to be blessed by Jesus, to hear a word from Jesus, to be forgiven by Jesus, to be received by the mercy of Jesus. We priests are humanly speaking so inadequate to this mission.
Story of St. John Chrysostom. He was an impressive man and the people of the local church wanted him to become a priest. He initially tried to hide from them. He felt completely inadequate to be a priest, to the important role of the priest. His reluctance was probably wise as he understood the importance of the priest in being the presence of Jesus for people. But, just as Jesus can be present to us in bread and wine, Jesus can come to us through a weak, sinful man.
The Gospel for this Mass of the Lord’s Supper is John’s account of the Last Supper and includes the Washing of the Feet. We all need to allow Jesus to teach, to heal, to forgive, to embrace us. Allow Jesus to wash your feet. But, this example he gives is for all of us. We are to be ready to wash each other’s feet. Bring kindness, truth, forgiveness, healing, gentleness, encouragement to one another. Stand in for Jesus. Be with others as Jesus would be with them. How would Jesus be with that person in front of you? You are to take the place of Jesus.
Tonight we celebrate the presence of Jesus. In the Eucharist and in the Priesthood. We are challenged to help Jesus to be present to others through us, through our words, our actions. Washing their feet. This presence of Jesus is God’s love for us. A God who grieves for us, who longs to be with us. Allow God to be with you.