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by Mar 28, 2024Friar Reflection

Today’s Gospel recalls the Last Supper, the supper that Jesus celebrated with his disciples “before the feast of Passover.”  The first reading brings out the meaning of the Jewish feast of Passover: “This day shall be a memorial feast for you.”  The feast recalls and remembers how God redeemed Israel from slavery in Egypt.  This memorial experience of “remembering” entails not just a calling to mind but a re-experiencing the “real presence” of God redeeming his people as they celebrate their Passover meal.  The core meaning of redemption is freedom from slavery or oppression be it physical, psychological, or spiritual oppression.

As Paul brings out in his letter to the Corinthians the Eucharist is a remembrance of our redemption through Jesus.  We remember his passion, death, and resurrection: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.”  Like the Jewish Passover, our Eucharistic “remembering” is not just a calling to mind of a past event but a new encounter with Jesus’ real presence in the Gospel and in the Eucharist.

Jesus teaches in today’s Gospel that the Eucharist calls each of us as participants to service and sacrifice.  Jesus makes this humble service concrete as he washes the feet of his disciples.  He also teaches us the deeper meaning of his prophetic action:

“Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

Today’s Gospel invites us to wash the feet of one another through humble service and sacrifice.  Jesus also challenges us to allow him to wash our feet.  When Peter objects: “You will never wash my feet.”  Jesus challenges him: “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.”  So, Jesus challenges you and me to allow him to wash our feet, to accept with humility God’s gift of love, mercy, peace.  This gift is offered to us at the beginning of mass with the Greeting: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”  Let us accept this gift from God as Jesus washes our feet.

Image: “IMG_1890 Ford Madox Brown. 1821-1893. Jesus Washing Peter’s Feet. Le lavement des pieds. 1858. Londres Tate Britain. by jean louis mazieres is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.