The Washing Of The Feet
When Jesus told his disciples “do this in memory of me”,we generally think of the institution of the Eucharist and we are right. But not entirely.
Before sitting down to the Paschal Meal, Jesus gave us all a lesson in humble service. He washed the feet of his disciples. Jesus was only too aware of the bickering among his disciples as to who was the greatest, and who should rank before the other. He asks them, who is greater? The one who sits at table, or the servant who waits upon him? Yet here I am among you, as a servant.
So the first thing Jesus wanted his friends to remember him by was his service. Not a grudging, unwilling, compulsory service, but a service born out of love. No tokenism here. Being really at the beck and call of others, allowing oneself to be used and abused, as servants are. The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life for the ransom of many.
Each time we offer any service of love to those around us, we become ‘other Christs’, bringing his care and salvation to the world.
This brings us to the second thing Jesus wished to be remembered by. The sharing of the meal, of the bread and wine that is offered for the reconciliation of the world.
The Gospel command, do this in memory of me, does not refer only to the liturgy. The Paschal Meal is a sacrificial act, and those who partake in the Eucharist are meant to offer their own lives and persons to bring reconciliation to the world, as Jesus did.
And to do this, all those who have responsibility in the Church must ensure that in the church, relationships are not those of dominance or manipulation or self-gratification, but of service to the point of self-sacrifice. This ultimately is what the Eucharist is meant to do – bring reconciliation, healing and harmony to society. So it is in essence a spiritual action with a deeply socio-political purpose. If we truly received the Eucharist, our lives would change, and so would the lives of those we are in touch with.
For it is in giving that we receive, in pardoning that we ourselves receive mercy, and in dying that we live to everlasting life.
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