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.
I noticed my friend’s bare feet resting, not on her wheelchair supports, but on the cold tile floor. Her health rapidly declining, she had invited friends and family to be present for her anointing. We hadn’t washed her feet, so had we done what Jesus asked us to do?
Had our gentle touches and hugs poured relief over her fears?
Had her weary heart been washed and refreshed by our words of blessing?
Had the isolation of her illness been rinsed away by our presence surrounding her like a river of love?
Jesus tells his disciples to follow his example, but offering to wash another’s feet may be an unusual or unwelcome act in our time. So we must find other ways to pour out kindness and compassion. To dry tears by our presence, and to gently touch another’s weary heart.
How is Jesus asking you to follow his example today?
—Diane Amento Owens is a spiritual director who encourages her directees to see the world through the lens of Ignatian spirituality.
Jesus, my teacher, help me to respond to others in compassionate and humble service, just as you did when you washed the feet of your disciples. Give me courage when I’m afraid to touch another’s aching spirit. May I follow your example of loving service today and always.
—Diane Amento Owens