The Washing of The Apostles’ Feet: Holy Thursday Reflection
Today is the time wherein the feet of many of our Christian brothers throughout the world are being washed by priests and pastors during liturgical rites to commemorate Jesus’ washing of the feet of the 12 Apostles. This is likewise the day when the Last Supper of Jesus with the Apostles happened, including His revelation that one of the Apostles will eventually betray Him.
In one of my CCD classes, one of the young girls asked me, “Why did Jesus wash the feet of the Apostles?” Unsure of what to say, I candidly told her the most practical answer that came first into my mind. During Jesus’ time, people only wore sandals and based on accounts, Jesus and His Apostles have traveled several miles going to Jerusalem and other places. Obviously, their feet got dirty, tired and were in a terrible state. Jesus being so considerate could have thought that the tired and dirty feet of His disciples need some pampering. Thus, He washed their feet with water/oil, keeping their feet clean and dry. It was as if Jesus offered them some foot spa treatment just like what massage therapists do when we want our feet feel relaxed and rejuvenated! Oh well, thanks goodness, the young girl and her classmates unfortunately believed in my story! What I told them may not be the logical explanation behind the said Biblical event, but it was the most practical reasoning that could easily be understood by them.
Surely, there’s a profound meaning behind the washing of the feet which was explained/clarified to the kids as well. Jesus’ intent was to share His humility and kindness to others, especially to His Apostles. He wants them to imitate Him and practice the said virtues. During Jesus’ time, the culture or ritual of “washing of the feet” was done by the servants to their Masters. But it was the other way around in Jesus’ case. He had a humbling way of showing His generosity. Instead of the Apostles washing His feet, He did it instead to them even if He was their Master.
In today’s time, the “washing of the feet” serves as a “wake-up” call, for everyone to practice more the virtues of charity and humility. On Thursdays of Holy Week, Jesus is reminding us to be kind and humble in everything we do and to be servants of one another. This is why Jesus, after washing the feet of His disciples reminded them, to wit: “Do as I have done to you”.
For young kids, to be humble and kind may be an easy thing to do. Kids ask no questions, they just obey whatever is being told by their parents, their teachers in school, their leaders in the church and in any school related groups and the like. But for grown ups and adults , it would be another story! There would always be a tinge of doubt; they would always ask questions, worry and fret on certain things until it becomes a big issue to them.
One of the two greatest commandments is to “love your neighbor as you love yourself”. But how can we love another person if we’re not practicing the virtues of humility and charity? How can we carry out these virtues if we think of ourselves as superior in all aspects of life (career, wealth, intelligence) or if we’re jealous of other people’s attributes and properties? When we grow up, things get complicated, it takes a lot of love and sacrifices to apply what Jesus wants us to do today.
If only “pride” did not exist, charity and humility would surely reign on earth. If only everyone practiced charity and humility in this world, there would be no hunger and poor people; there would be no greed and selfishness; there would be no divorce and failed marriages , there would be no wars and conflicts; there would be no VIP’s and self-righteous people who think they are much better than everyone else. I felt that the message behind the “washing of the feet” was really meant for the big-headed, the all-knowing intellectuals and those similarly situated, for them to act like servants who are willing to help and serve other people especially those in dire need.
Ouch! In certain cases we may have been guilty against these virtues. Various lures and temptations abound to prevent us from going all the way for God. I must admit even up to this day, I myself am still struggling to be a real good person and hopefully to change completely for the better. But with God’s mercy and forgiveness, I tried very hard to stand up hoping to do good things so as to please God and to be more closer to Him.
The foregoing (much more to be holy) is easier said than done. But with the resolve to do good and with God’s blessings, no doubt we can do it. It only takes a little practice of charity and humility with a touch of love. That would be a good start. We believe that God is love and love is powerful. When there’s love, we become humble and forgiving; we can patiently bear the faults of others. In so doing, we would be able to face our daily challenges and ultimately share the same to others, making our world filled with beauty and joy. Isn’t it wonderful? This, I believe, is the essence and the logic behind the washing of the feet.
*featured photo mine