St John 13: 1-17
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. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.”
Many years ago, I found myself in hospital following emergency surgery. For the first 2 or 3 days after the operation I was unable to do much for myself and had to rely on the nursing staff who treated me with much care and respect. Always having been a fiercely independent person I initially found this extremely difficult as it was usually I who cared for and served others.
This occurred almost at the start of my ministry as a Church Related Community Worker; as I reflected on the experience I came to a deeper understanding of my ministry and how we in the Church serve others. We go out into the wider world (or often invite the world in) and find ways to meet practical needs or campaign for their fairer, more just treatment by society. We attempt to give freely of what has been given to us by God, but we often operate from the safety of being behind some form of barrier either physical or imaginary. We often wash other people’s feet whereas Jesus instructs his disciples to wash each other’s feet.
Serving is not a one-way system and we should be open to receive help and service from the most unexpected sources. Remember the story of the Good Samaritan?
We should therefore accept that our feet may also be dirty and allow others to scrub them clean.
Brother, sister let me serve you.
Let me be as Christ to you.
Pray that I might heave the grace
To let you be my servant, too.