Holy Thursday foot-washing memories

Every year during Holy Week I remember my very favorite Holy Week, the culmination of a year in RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults), preparation for joining the Catholic Church. On Holy Thursday that year I was to be one of the parishioners to have their feet washed by the priest. In front of the entire congregation. EEK! Do I get a pedicure, or would that look too showy? Would bare toenails be more appropriate? What outfit? What shoes? Obviously hose or socks in any form are out of the question – too complicated. And what if my feet sweat? Yes, I’d been preparing myself spiritually for this week for an entire year, but throw in one foot-washing and I’m back to my usual shallow concerns! Thankfully, the priest who got foot-washing duty that year (I’m sure they trade that one off with the blessing of the animals) was an elderly gentleman I’d grown to know and love through his occasional visits to our RCIA class, where he’d refer to God as “He or She”. His Easter Sunday homily the previous year had been short and sweet – a line from “Oklahoma”: “Oh, what a beautiful morning, Oh what a beautiful day. I’ve got a beautiful feeling everything’s going my way!”. I’d gone with bare, yet soft, and he joked with me while he washed my feet, and then he made the woman next to me giggle when he complimented her choice of nail polish. His was always the longest line at Reconciliation, too. Rumor had it he’s give penances like “You’re too hard on yourself. Go home and take a nice long bubblebath!” I sure miss him!
John 13:1-15
Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come
to pass from this world to the Father.
He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.
The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over.
So, during supper,
fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power
and that he had come from God and was returning to God,
he rose from supper and took off his outer garments.
He took a towel and tied it around his waist.
Then he poured water into a basin
and began to wash the disciples’ feet
and dry them with the towel around his waist.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him,
“Master, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“What I am doing, you do not understand now,
but you will understand later.”
Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered him,
“Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.”
Simon Peter said to him,
“Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.”
Jesus said to him,
“Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed,
for he is clean all over;
so you are clean, but not all.”
For he knew who would betray him;
for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
So when he had washed their feet
and put his garments back on and reclined at table again,
he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you?
You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am.
If I, therefore, the 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.”

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