How fitting that we begin the celebration of the Triduum by remembering Jesus gathered with his friends for the Passover meal in which he gave himself to us in the bread and cup of the Eucharist. And how very odd, that the gospel this night should tell of the Lord’s Supper with nary a mention of “bread and cup,” not a word devoted to “body and blood,” not so much as a hint of “food for everlasting life.”
John seems not at all concerned about what’s ON the table, but rather, focuses totally on what’s UNDER the table: feet! Tired feet, dirty feet, road-worn, calloused, dusty, muddy, smelly feet; feet needing to be washed. Certainly for Jesus, dirty feet were very real.
In both images, of course, in bread and cup, and in the washing of feet, Jesus gives himself to us as our servant, and calls us to serve one another. And even though John doesn’t write about it, we can be sure that bread was broken and a cup blessed after Jesus washed his friends’ feet.
In a few moments, we will prepare the Lord’s table for the supper he gave us on the night before he died. But before all that, we shall “look under the table,” for feet to be washed.
Everyone: watch what we do here: watch what we do with feet, basin, bowl and towel; watch what we do with bread and wine. Watch for the connection between what happens UNDER the table and what happens ON the table – and in the connection, see the life we are called to live BEYOND the table.
We invite all to come forward tonight to have their feet washed. Assisting me in the washing of feet are Alvaro Febrel, Claire Bankson, and Peggy McKasy. I will wash their feet, our elect will have their feet washed, and then all are invited to come forward. If you wish to participate in the foot washing, please remove your shoes and socks (both feet) before leaving your seat.
As Jesus said: “If I, your master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”
Paul A. Magnano