In last Sunday’s Gospel, Mary of Bethany anointed the feet of Jesus. Her loving action foreshadowed the anointing of Jesus for burial, but it also represented her reaching toward Jesus with her love, her prayer, and her intention to be united with him in the fullness of God’s love. At the Last Supper, Jesus reverses this, as he becomes the one who reaches out to his disciples and insists on washing their feet. Jesus kneels, bends, reaches, and offers divinity in the service of humanity. God reaches out to us.
On Maundy Thursday, we are invited to wash the feet of another and to have our own feet washed. Every year, as I notice my own anxiety around this ritual, I ask myself which is more difficult: to wash another’s feet or to have my own feet washed? Without a doubt, the hardest is to be the one washed. To be the recipient of such an action puts me a in place of need, vulnerability, and humility. And yet, that’s the message of Maundy Thursday. To place our feet within the reach and care of another is a small way in which we practice humility in Christ.
Across religious traditions, in yoga, stretching, and other activities, wise teachers suggest, “Notice where your feet are.” Noticing our feet invites us to be present. It helps us begin to apprehend the places underneath and nearby, the environment, and our proximity to others and with God.
As we enter Holy Week, our feet lead the way. On Palm Sunday we join the crowds as they enter Jerusalem and anticipate those who will stand with Jesus on Calvary. On Thursday, we wash and are washed before we share in the Lord’s Supper. Later, perhaps we slumber like the disciples in Gethsemane or run from the garden as the soldiers arrest Jesus. On Friday, we stand with Mary, “at the cross her station keeping, where he hung, the dying Lord.” And on Saturday night and Sunday morning we join those disciples who run from the empty tomb with the news that Christ has risen! Especially in the holy days ahead, I invite you to notice where your feet are and to worship God with your whole body, mind, and spirit.