Jesus poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist. When he had washed their feet and reclined at table again, he said to them, “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.” John 13:5, 12-15
In our Catholic tradition we celebrate Holy Thursday with foot-washing during the Eucharist. Last night I was honored (humbled actually) to be a part of our parish’s celebration. We are reminded by Jesus’ example that to truly serve God we must become servants to one another. This seems counter cultural in our society today.
Here in the United States we pride ourselves on being a nation of ‘movers and shakers’; of innovators; of doers; of deciders. We don’t just strive – we achieve. We outlast. We outwit. We out-perform. WE ARE NUMBER ONE!
Nothing says “success” quite like hiring out our mundane tasks. I have a very financially successful friend that frequently says, “I have a guy.” Which means he hires someone to do EVERYTHING while he can devote himself to more important tasks (like amassing more wealth so he can hire more guys). I admit I’m often envious. I can only imagine the sheer joy of handing unpleasant jobs off to another.
But Jesus challenges me. How can I be a servant when I so desperately want to be served? This will require some prayer and some much-needed humility. I tried “serving” some people in my office today – offering to get someone a cup of coffee and bringing another their copies from the print room. Their reactions were very revealing. “Why are you doing this?” There was a sense of mistrust and confusion. “Are you joking; what do you really want?” Clearly I need to practice being a servant. I am ashamed that no one was comfortable with me in that role. Perhaps my own discomfort showed through in my weak attempt as a servant. What if my self-confidence is just thinly veiled arrogance and elitism? How will I ever really serve others?
On this Good Friday as I thank Jesus for his ultimate sacrifice, I am keenly aware of how much I still need His forgiveness.