Day Forty four, Maundy Thursday
Washing people’s feet.
John 13: 1-15
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.”
If you are to actually follow the teachings of Jesus, you are to wash the feet of others. Jesus is very clear in His teaching. He even acts it out. The teaching put simply is “Love as I have loved” which means to love one another.
But the ego doesn’t like unity. The ego likes to separate and divide and make special so that there is a pecking order where one’s ego can be bolstered by diminishing another. We do this many times a day, every day, every time we make a judgment and determine that another is “less than” they should be and in calling this a “fact” we make ourselves feel better because we think we are better than them.
What Jesus does on what we now call Maundy Thursday is counterintuitive. Peter highlights this by saying we would never allow Jesus to wash his feet, but Jesus tells him unless he allows this they cannot be one. Peter then says, “Well in that case, wash me all over from head to toe.”
What Jesus is demonstrating is the renunciation of the ego and the embracing of the Spirit. This is the main message of Lent. This is what Lent is all about. You will know that you have had a good Lent if your ego is a little weaker and your Spirit has been invigorated. During this Lenten Season have you become more loving, more generous, more empathic, more peaceful, happier? If so, you have had a good Lent. If not, maybe you would like to try again.
Renouncing the path of the ego and embracing the path of the Spirit does not end when Lent is over, it is the work of a lifetime. You can continue by washing a few people’s feet. And whose feet should you wash? Anyone that life puts in your path. Start today. Start right now.