By: John Bucki, SJ
Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
"The washing of the feet and the sacrament of the Eucharist: two expressions of one and the same mystery of love entrusted to the disciples, so that, Jesus says, 'as I have done . . . so also must you do' (Jn 13: 15)."
Pope John Paul II, Holy Thursday 2003
"Great indeed is the mystery of which we have been made ministers . . . a mystery of divine diakonia which prompts the Word made flesh to wash the feet of his creation, thus showing that service is the high road in all genuine relationships between people: 'You also should do as I have done to you' (Jn 13:15)."
Pope John Paul II, Letter to Priests for Holy Thursday 2001
"A spirituality of communion indicates above all the heart's contemplation of the mystery of the Trinity dwelling in us, and whose light we must also be able to see shining on the face of the brothers and sisters around us. A spirituality of communion also means an ability to think of our brothers and sisters in faith within the profound unity of the Mystical Body, and therefore as 'those who are a part of me.' This makes us able to share their joys and sufferings, to sense their desires and attend to their needs, to offer them deep and genuine friendship. A spirituality of communion implies also the ability to see what is positive in others, to welcome it and prize it as a gift from God: not only as a gift for the brother or sister who has received it directly, but also as a 'gift for me.' A spirituality of communion means, finally, to know how to 'make room' for our brothers and sisters, bearing 'each other's burdens' (Gal 6:2) and resisting the selfish temptations which constantly beset us and provoke competition, careerism, distrust and jealousy. Let us have no illusions: unless we follow this spiritual path, external structures of communion will serve very little purpose. They would become mechanisms without a soul, 'masks' of communion rather than its means of expression and growth."
Pope John Paul II, Novo Millennio Ineunte, #43
"We have a lot of work to do. Every time we reach out and assuage someone's hunger, and do that in memory of Jesus, a sense of Eucharist will bring to consciousness the Spirit and the real presence of Jesus--in us, through us, among us. That Spirit alone is capable of transforming the world and us."
Miriam Therese Winter, MMS
Thoughts for your Consideration
Holy Thursday presents us with many things that connect with Catholic Social Teaching. Holy Thursday offers us scriptures which challenge us to move beyond ourselves into the freedom and joy of Jesus Christ which is shared in community. God's spirit inspires social change in the Christian community and in the world community.
The Exodus: In the first reading we are invited into the exodus story, the great story of God leading people from slavery to freedom, the great story of God bringing people together into a community. God's spirit inspires liberation of those who are enslaved. Liberation is at the heart of Catholic Social Teaching.
The Passover Meal - The Eucharist: In the second reading, we are invited into the Passover meal which Jesus celebrated with his friends. We are invited into the Eucharist and to receive the body of Christ and to become the living body of Christ. This solidarity is essential to Catholic Social Teaching.
The Washing of Feet: In the gospel story, we are invited into the Passover meal and the profound ritual of washing feet--the profound ritual of service. Service is what being a follower of Jesus is all about. [It is so central to what Jesus is about, that some have proposed that we do this each Sunday, just as we share the Eucharist each week.] Service, especially to the poor and all those in need, is at the heart of Catholic Social Teaching.
Service and mutuality: The interaction between Jesus and Peter reminds us of the mutuality of service that is essential to the Christian life. Peter, along with all the other disciples, is told to go and do the same, but first he is also told that he has to have his feet washed. The Christian community is not a community of "domination over," or a community where some have it and others do not, or a community divided by those in need and those not in need. We all need to serve and we all need to be served. In community we share our needs as well as our gifts with each other.
Priestly Ministry: If the ministry of priests makes any sense in the Christian churches it is only in light of the gospel story of the washing of the feet. In our baptism we are all priests. We all have things to learn and things to teach. Priesthood means humble service. It is in a spirit of humble service that we work for social change.
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
Share an experience of witnessing humble service. How did it touch you? How were you challenged?
We thank you, O God,
for the life and the knowledge
which you have revealed to us
through Jesus, your servant.
Glory to you through the ages!
As the bread we have broken
was scattered far and wide upon the hills,
but when harvested becomes one,
so may the Church be gathered
into your Kingdom
from the farthest reaches of the earth . . .
Lord almighty, you created the universe
for the glory of your name;
you gave women and men food and drink
to strengthen them,
that they might give you thanks;
but to us you have given
spiritual food and drink,
and eternal life through your Son . . .
Glory to you through the ages!
(Didache 9:3-4; 10:3-4)
* * *
Thank you for sight:
sight that comes in Jesus,
insight about ourselves and the world,
insight about the way of Jesus,
the way of compassionate love.
Thank you for life and all that nourishes life:
the food of bread and grain,
fruits and vegetables,
meat and fish,
milk and all proteins,
air and water,
sun and breeze,
earth and sea,
space and mystery,
friend and companion,
stranger and refugee,
young and old,
the familiar and the new.
Thank you for the life of the spirit:
for prayer and meditation,
for silence and sound,
for sacrament and scripture,
for community and tradition,
for poverty and wealth,
for wisdom shared,
for conversation and silence,
for unity and diversity.
Thank you for all the challenges:
for the call
to act for justice,
to serve others,
to live in peace,
for the feelings that teach us
to know ourselves and others and you,
to be restless for what is right,
to speak out for what is good,
to witness to what is of God.
Glory to you through all the ages! Amen!