“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.” (John 13:3-5 NRSV).
I have been enjoying reading the book Ashes and the Phoenix: Meditations for the Season of Lent edited and compiled by Len Freeman. In his meditation written by Jason Leo for Tuesday in Holy Week he writes,
“there is more going on in the story of Holy Week than Jesus’ death, more going on than a horrible story of the execution and death of a good man. It is the beginning of a journey to new life for Jesus and for us–for all of us’ (See page 99).
In the journeys of our lives we all come from pathways full of circumstances. Some of those circumstances have happened by the chances of life. Some are because of choices we made good or bad. Others are the result new experiences that changed our sense of direction. Others gave us sense of ourselves that have boxed us up in to who we think God is to each of us (and sometimes everyone else).
Contemplative prayer brings about the greatest of mystical experiences when we let go of who we think God is and what God does. The contemplative opens herself/himself up to letting God show us who God is in Jesus, and who we are because of who God’s Incarnate Word is. The desert Mothers and Fathers teach us that our experiences of God bring the greatest of changes to our lives when we let the masks come off, even if we do not like what we see reflected in our interior mirrors. God accepts us as we are, and wants us to as well.
Our feet often tell us and others a lot of what our personal walk with God is like. We have all walked long, dirty, painful and stinky pathways. We have experienced suffering in ways during which we dragged our feet and got a few callouses. Our toe nails have gotten too long. Our feet may have dry skin as we walked through the burning desert of denial. Jesus wants to wash our feet, because He has been walking those same roads with us. Jesus washes our feet to tell us that it is okay to let go and begin to walk a new journey with Him. That journey will take us to the Cross where our false-sense of self will be crucified and die. On Easter, we will rise with Jesus to begin walking in the way of new life.
“With this conclusion, the Lord waits for us daily to translate into action, as we should, his holy teachings.” (RB 1980: The Rule of Saint Benedict in English, p.18).
“An old man said, ‘Every time a thought of superiority or vanity moves you, examine your conscience to see if you have kept all the commandments, whether you love your enemies, whether you consider yourself to be an unprofitable servant and the greatest sinner of all. Even so, do not pretend to great ideas as though you were perfectly right, for that thought destroys everything.'” (Daily Readings with the Desert Fathers, p 32).
Would you let Jesus wash your feet?
Peace be with all who enter here.
Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB
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