Two nights ago, I had the pleasure of having a foot bath.
No, this was not some spa experience, where you soak your feet in therapeutic salt water and then enjoy a nice massage from someone trained to relieve all of your pain.
You see, I was approached by one of our church’s priests earlier in the week, asking whether I’d be interested in participating in a reenactment of Jesus’ washing of the apostles’ feet during the Holy Thursday Mass.
Given the Mass was to be held in the evening in the midst of our kids’ bedtime routine, I was thankful my wife and I were able to juggle matters at home, allowing me to attend on my family’s behalf.
I was so grateful to have been present, as it was truly an honor to be part of the demonstration before the congregation.
As I shared with Catherine at home afterwards, I had taken part in such a reenactment once before, but this time was far more meaningful – and far more emotional.
As the priest moved with his basin of water from one volunteer to another, I felt myself thinking of Jesus.
I imagined Him in a room, kneeling or sitting while pouring water over His trusted friends’ feet, drying them with care and ensuring each one of the apostles knew how cherished he was.
By the time the priest had reached me, I was thinking of Peter and how he asked Jesus to wash not only his feet but also his hands and head. (John 13:9)
I became so overcome with emotion that I was trembling somewhat and had tears beginning to drip from my eyes.
You see, when I look at my life and consider my sins, I know I’m not worthy of God’s unconditional love, despite whatever goodness I’ve contributed in His name.
For this reason, like Peter, I’d rather have an entire ocean of God’s holy grace showered over me, instead of a small amount of water poured on just my feet.
Yet, as Jesus reminded the apostles, only the feet are necessary, for we are healed of our sins and made pure with Him by His blessing. (John 13:10)
In contemplating my own identity and Jesus’ love given to me freely, I can easily ask myself, Who am I to receive this extraordinary and undeserved gift?
But during Holy Thursday Mass, I thought instead of the question Jesus posed to His disciples when He asked them one day after having been approached by crowds, Who do you say that I am? (Mark 8:27-30)
Having my feet washed and already with thoughts of Peter in my head, I couldn’t help but remember his answer to Jesus in that instance – You are the Messiah. (Mark 8:29)
We are challenged in our lives to decide who Jesus is to us. It is times like Easter when we can better concentrate on this question in order to be completely honest with our answer.
Shaking and tearing up the other night when having my feet washed, I came to further understand and appreciate Peter’s answer.
Jesus, You are the Christ – the Chosen One, the Son of God, our Savior.
Pope Francis recently addressed priests, challenging them to discern over Jesus’ identity in the world today and their responsibility to represent and celebrate Him.
“We either make Jesus present in the life of humanity or let Him remain on the level of ideas, letters on a page, incarnate at most in some good habit, gradually becoming routine,” he said.
As we commemorate the Lord’s Last Supper and His death on the cross on Good Friday, and look ahead to celebrating His glorious Resurrection tomorrow, may we find the courage within ourselves to also ponder more attentively who Jesus is for us in our lives.
As Jesus said He was thirsty while being crucified, may we strive to always deepen our relationship with Him, quenching His thirst for relationship with us while being invited to receive a powerful wave of God’s grace in the process.