Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God,got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
A woman I know confesses she is not very regular at Sunday Mass. A kind of here-and-there worship is what she manages. But then every year, she is sure to come to the Triduum. There she is, Holy Thursday at her parish, that table, that beginning of the three days. I think she has her priorities straight. At this table there is room to return and to remember, the losses and the expectations. Here is Jesus more himself than ever, and we too, exactly as we are, invited as ourselves too. And the evening gathers us in.
Jesus sat at many supper tables before this one, at Zachaeus’ house, and Martha’s and Matthew’s. His feet were washed, or not, by servants or unexpected women. And then when everything was becoming critical and new, on the brink of his arrest, this is his time to touch us, to wash us from the ground up, with all the affection and hope he has been carrying for us. We are the beloved community, feeling his hands drying our feet now. We take the bread and cup as if for the first time, communion in his body and his blood-letting to come.
Come to know your place in the story. Renew connections with a friend or two, remember their love, their touch. Now knowing your priorities, where are where you need to be.
—Fr. Richard Bollman, S.J., a Jesuit of the Chicago-Detroit province, is currently engaged in pastoral ministries in Cincinnati and at the Jesuit Retreat Center, Milford, OH.
Hail our Savior’s glorious Body, which his Virgin Mother bore. Hail the Blood which shed for sinners, did a broken world restore. Hail the sacrament most holy, flesh and blood of Christ adore. Amen.
—Pange Lingua, tr. by James, Quinn, S.J.