HW Day 3: Holy Tuesday, You Shall Never Wash My Feet

A short reflection for each day of Holy Week

"You shall never wash my feet."

Jesus and his disciples walked everywhere. There was no public transit, no Uber service for weary pilgrims of the the ancient near East. Only sandals, feet and dirt roads.

So when the Gospel of John depicts Jesus washing his disciples' feet, you can bet it was no easy task, no hollow gesture. It was a messy, utterly human and enfleshed exercise.


No wonder Peter shied away from the Lord's gesture. No wonder he, when Jesus came to him in turn, begged the Lord not to debase himself to wash his wretched, sinful feet.

"You shall never wash my feet."

It requires tremendous humility and vulnerability to allow others to clean us. We must trust them first not to harm us, then not to judge us. We must allow ourselves to be served, a simultaneously humbling and exalting task.

To experience the holiness of this passion moment, I must allow someone to draw near to the messiest part of me.

We are embarrassed by our dirtiness, but God is not. We are ashamed of our hidden weaknesses, fears and insecurities, but God is not. He is the consummate servant, the professional cleanser, the willing healer. He knows every callous, every blister, scrape and blemish, and does not shrink back at the sight of our truest selves.

The God of the universe, washing human feet.

How perfectly scandalous.

One can hardly blame Peter for begging his God to remain pure in his sight, to keep his divine hands clean, but Jesus insists. If you cannot have your feet washed by the God of the universe, he says, then you cannot enter into the kingdom. A kingdom marked by mutual submission, mutual service, mutual self-giving love.

In order to usher in this kingdom of service over artifice, love over propriety, Jesus Christ got his hands dirty.

The God with dirty hands.

"You shall never wash my feet."

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