Contemplation for Holy Thursday

A good reminder, readers:

Awkward: A Holy Thursday Reflection

This year, our Holy Thursday liturgy will be missing a familiar component—the Washing of the Feet. A small if unholy part of me is somewhat relieved. The liturgy is long enough. Surely we’ve sanitized sufficiently this year! And quite frankly, I find the foot-washing to be a bit awkward.

In the past, the ceremony was always choreographed carefully to minimize clumsiness and fumbling. Most of those coming forward had pre-washed their feet; some of the women had pedicured and powdered or perfumed them. How shocking it would be if their feet were as dirty as those of the real apostles; if we encountered the odor, or saw water blackened by grime! Still, those coming forward to have their feet washed always seem reluctant as if it is something to endure rather than to be honored by.

Yet it’s to the awkwardness that Jesus, smiling, summons my attention.

I flash back to another supper, years ago when I was a young adult in NYC. I was seeking a way to serve, to be Jesus to the poor, to find some sort of mission and meaning in my life. So one Sunday I slipped on my goody two-shoes and headed to the South Bronx to serve supper at the men’s homeless shelter.

It seemed simple; I could cook; I could ladle soup; I would be happy organizing and cleaning up. But when we arrived, the food was all prepared. There was only one pot, and so only one person was needed to serve. There was in fact nothing to “do” but to sit down for supper among the shelter guests.

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One thought on “Contemplation for Holy Thursday

  1. I share the author’s tepid reaction to the “washing of the feet” at Holy Thursday Mass. we do seem to have lost the understanding as well as the traditional structure of this part of the rite, as can be garnered from this fascinating historical review published at Catholic Culture:

    I would be perfectly happy if it went away, except in Masses celebrated by bishops in a basilica or cathedral. Just my two denarii. 😉

    A blessed Triduum and Happy Easter to all!

    Liked by 1 person

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