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. We are reminded by Jesus’ example that to truly serve God we must become servants to one another. Jesus challenges me. How can I be a servant when I so desperately want to be served?
Yesterday I came home after a week-long business trip to discover that our sump pump had stopped working and that our basement was wet. Very wet. So I began trying to salvage things and mop up the mess. Then of course a trip to purchase a new sump pump. That kind of job ALWAYS requires a second or third trip to the hardware store to buy the additional parts that are needed. I struggled and cursed for what seemed like hours (actually minutes) to disconnect and re-install the new pump. Finally my son-in-law and hero came to my rescue. And peace was restored in the land.
At Mass last night I was contemplating this servant-serving thing. My back ached and my knees were sore from my afternoon of unexpected labor. I realized being humbled in the muck of my basement clean-up and repair, I had become a servant of sorts. But even more profoundly my son-in-law Travis had served me. And I had the grace to accept my defeat and allow his much-needed support.
I believe that the Eucharist is our great equalizer. We come together as servants or those being served. We join in servitude or privilege; as peasants or nobility; as haves or have-nots; and leave as equals. We are reminded that we are ALL created in God’s image. As we attempt to serve God by serving one another, we are served the ultimate gift – Life in Christ.