April 21, 2016 – Thursday in the 4th Week of Easter

Saint for the day: Anselm (1033-1109)

foot washing

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Acts 13:13-25    –    Psalm 89    –    John 13:16-20

“Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” (John 13:20)

With these above words from the end of today’s Holy Gospel – along with the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles – we might title today’s Liturgy, “Connecting in and sending on!”

It was always important for the early Church to see that what they were preaching was not just some new, fandangle theory but one that was deeply rooted in the Jewish tradition and history. That’s why they stayed connected to the synagogues whenever they went out preaching. They even brought up the shortcomings of the “chosen people of God” and reminded them “with uplifted arm he led them out, and for about forty years he put up with them in the desert.” (Acts 13:17) I love that image: “He put up with them in the desert!” We all know the story because it plays out in our own lives as we try to make our way through the “deserts” of our own making.

Then, today’s Holy Gospel puts it back in focus by starting out with the line, “When Jesus had washed the disciples’ feet…” This is where Jesus surprises the disciples by telling them that they have to begin their ministry in service to one another. They might have expected Him to give them a short course in “scriptural exhortation” and instead He tells them they have to wash feet!

I couldn’t help but think back to the time my dad, who was getting more and more crippled up with arthritis, asked me if I would clip his fingernails. He didn’t have enough dexterity in his hands to do even that simple act. I was happy to help him with this and even suggested that I clip his toenails while I was at it. He protested that he wouldn’t ask anyone to have to deal with his dirty, crippled up feet but I persisted and did it because I thought this is what God asks all of us to do: be in service and help to one another. As I was doing this I just imagined what Jesus’ feet might have looked like after he had made his tortuous journey to Calvary. All of us would like to be remembered for the great and glorious things we said or did in our lives. Yet, in the end God is going to ask us, “when I was – here fill in the blanks – you did (or didn’t) take care of me!” And we’ll ask, “When did we see you … and help you?” Or turn away from you?” (see Matthew 25:35ff)

If we really want to connect in with Jesus and be faithful followers today’s Holy Gospel tells us where to begin: in helping those who have no one else to help them. We’ve just recently been hearing about the “Good Shepherd” and how His sheep know him and hear his voice and they follow him. I think it behooves us to hear, again, what it means to be in close fellowship with Jesus: Three little words: hear his voice; known to Him; willing to follow. That’s all it takes: listening to the voice of God; being in close relationship through prayer and sacraments; and willing to follow Him wherever He leads. And along the way we might have to wash some dirty feet! Amen!

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