Why does the Church, for today’s celebration, choose to focus on
Jesus’ washing his apostle’s feet rather than on the institution of
the Holy Eucharist?
“He loved his own in the world and loved them to the end…He rose from
supper… took off his outer garment… took a towel and tied it around
his waist, poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’
feet.” So that, indeed, he might show how much he loves them. For he
already knew how, later in the evening, he would be betrayed, denied
and abandoned by them. Looking back, they would be overwhelmed by the
horror of what they had done. They would understand the forgiving
compassion of their Master’s love.
Jesus knelt to wash his disciples’ feet. Washing the feet was, in
Jewish society, a task for slaves. Abasing himself before them, Jesus
meant to introduce something new into their lives. It meant giving
themselves in services as slaves to one another. “I have given you an
example to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should do
If we wish to share in the Eucharist in which the loving Lord, the
Sacrificial Lamb is present, we must give ourselves in love,
sacrificially to one another. The Eucharistic Sacrifice relates us in
love to the Lord as it relates us to our brothers and sisters.
May the love of Jesus for his followers, for us, expressed through the
Eucharist fill us with a deep desire to give ourselves in service to
one another. Jesus came for us all, sinners, the sick, the poor, to
wash our feet. Could we do the same in likeness to our Master?