We have so much in our liturgy. We commemorate the beginning of the priesthood. The days we celebrate are the holiest time for our church. This is the time we focus our attention on the self-giving love of Jesus Christ. This is the center of our faith: Jesus is handed over to death, is crucified and raised from the dead. All of this is for our life and for the life of the whole world. No other celebration in the church, not even Christmas, matches the importance of the days of Holy Week.
It is because of Jesus’ death and resurrection that His followers first started to tell stories about His birth. Without the resurrection, His death would have been the end of the story. His followers would have scattered – gone home or done their own thing. His birth would have been lost in the crowds of Bethlehem; His life would have been forgotten.
Holy Week tells us a different story. His Life is remembered. Now, in the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the life, death, and resurrection of Christ are spread before us.
On the night before He dies, Jesus looks ahead to tomorrow’s final act of self-giving on the cross. He leaves us with His greatest gift – His very self – under the form of bread and wine. He knew what was facing him the next day; He was aware He would die. This was His last supper with His friends and He does something unbelievable. He takes a towel and a basin of water, and washes His disciples’ feet. One by one, He kneeled before them on the hard stone floor and washed their dusty feet. No words could have driven home more clearly the fact that Jesus called His followers to a life of service.
He told them – If I, your Lord and teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet for I have given you an example that you should do as I have done to you. In other words, if I who am God, your Creator and your Redeemer, can care for you enough to wash your feet, why can’t you wash each other’s feet and care for one another? Care for each other right here and now where we meet to eat at this meal?
All around us are people with hungers and problems, probably just about every human problem in the book. Many are hurting in some way, shape or form. They are hurting because of addictions, loss of family or jobs. Hurting because of illness or old age. Hurting because I am unloved or worse because I think I am unlovable. Hurting because I have hurt so many. Do not think for a moment you are unique and alone, on a cross for one. We all hurt because we are men and women fashioned of fragile flesh and sensitive spirit – all needing to be loved.