Holy Thursday | Gospel Reflection
"O sublime humility! O humble sublimity!"
These words written by Saint Francis of Assisi echo in my mind as I read today’s Gospel. Francis wrote these words specifically about our Lord hidden under the form of ordinary bread in the Eucharist. But at the Last Supper, when Jesus instituted that wondrous sacrament, he also performed another act of sublime humility which we read about today.
Taking off his outer garments and tying a towel around his waist, Jesus kneels down in front of his disciples and washes their feet. The men watch as their teacher, the one who drove out demons and walked across turbulent seas, now takes their dusty feet into his hands to perform a task typically reserved for the lowliest of servants.
Jesus performs this act of service to leave an example of fraternal charity to his disciples and to the world. And as he kneels down before Judas, the one who would hand him over to his torturers, Jesus demonstrates that this charity must defy reason; we must extend it even to our enemies, even to those who will betray us.
The washing of the disciples’ feet not only teaches us an important lesson about how we are to love, it teaches us a lesson about the kind of God we have. Our God, the Creator of the Universe, is willing to bend down in front of us and wash the dirt off of our feet. It’s in this simple, intimate act of service that God reveals his nature. He loves us tenderly, gently, and all the way to the cross. "He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end."
Perhaps, like Peter, our reaction is one of protest; how can we, sinful creatures that we are, possibly accept such a gift? But the mystery and beauty of our faith lies in the fact that God pours out his love on us even though we will never deserve it. And in order to have an inheritance with him, we must accept it.
I pray that as you meditate on today’s Gospel, you allow yourself to accept Jesus’ love for you. And in receiving that sublime gift, I pray that you would humbly share it with everyone you encounter.