Words from Pope Benedict:
"Jesus represents the whole of his saving ministry in one symbolic act. He divest himself of his divine splendor; he, as it were, kneels down before us; he washes and dries our soiled feet, in order to make us fit at table for God's wedding feast."
Over the past year I have been teaching the sixth graders religion. I have enjoyed it tremendously. What I have discovered, is that the students have a thirst for fairness.
What they want more than anything else is to be treated fairly, however, they also want the privilege of defining what "fair" means.
So not only do they want life to be fair, but they want it only inso far as it benefits them them most.
It is a unique perspective on fairness.
But let's face it, when it comes to love we are no different. We want love's give and take to be fair.
We especially want it to be fair in regards to its favoring us, making our life easier, more manageable, less difficult.
We all want fairness; we all want to receive what we give: reciprocity is what we hunger for.
Yet, Jesus shows us another way, a more freeing way of love; he shows us a love no longer hindered by our notion of fairness or reciprocity.
He stoops down and washes the feet of his disciples: these are men who will betray him, deny him, abandon him, forsake him, run far from him.
JEsus washes the feet of those who don't deserve it. In doing so he shows us a love that is not limited to our desiring, not focused on our wanting, not bound by our notion of fairness, not engineered around our demands, but rather a demeaning love.
It is a love that refuses to be held captive by any notion of fairness. It just loves.
Think about our life: how often have we said those words: they don't deserve "my" love. But it is exactly in that moment when true love can finally be understood, received, and given.
Love never ask what we think others might deserve; love simply recognizes that we have been loved beyond what we deserve and we are simply returning the favor, for while we were sinners Christ died for us, so says St. Paul.
In the words of Jesus, "what I have done for you, you must also do."
Think about the first part of the gospel we read John 13. John tells us that all power is handed over to Jesus. Think about power for a moment. Our culture and our society hunger for power and control.
We see Jesus' power throughout the gospel as he multiplies the loaves and fish and feed thousands, makes the leper whole, the bold the see with a simple touch, or raises the dead with a word of command, or calms the storm by his presence.
JEsus has power over the created world, the gospel makes this clear and leaves no doubt.
What would we do with power? What do we do with power?
Would we have the courage and strength to do what JEsus does, stoop down and become like a slave to wash the dirty, soiled feet of faithless friends.
The fact of the matter JEsus reminds us and shows us that when it comes to love, w can always go lower so that love can be higher on our priority list.