Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Wash One Another’s Feet

April 9, 2009

Holy Thursday - Chrism Mass

Holy Thursday - Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper

"This is how you are to eat it: with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand, you shall eat like those who are in flight. It is the Passover of the LORD. For on this same night I will go through Egypt, striking down every first--born of the land, both man and beast, and executing judgment on all the gods of Egypt-I, the LORD! But the blood will mark the houses where you are. Seeing the blood, I will pass over you; thus, when I strike the land of Egypt, no destructive blow will come upon you. "This day shall be a memorial feast for you, which all your generations shall celebrate with pilgrimage to the LORD, as a perpetual institution." Exodus 12:11-14

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. John 13:12-15


The one who takes upon himself the humiliation of the people is fit to rule them; the one who takes upon himself the country’s disasters deserves to be king of the universe. The truth often sounds paradoxical. Tao te Ching #78


When I lived in Boston, we had this wonderfully gregarious Irish priest named Fr. Carney Gavin who would was in residence at St. Columbkille’s in Brighton-Allston. One day while preaching on baptism, he told us his reaction when he first heard the famous Lucien Deiss song that opens with the line “Priestly, people, kingly people, holy people!”

Father Gavin said that the first few times he heard the song he thought the lyrics referred to “greasy people.” He did not think his “mis-hearing” odd because we Catholics use oil for so many ceremonies. In fact today, during the Chrism Mass at St. Thomas More Cathedral, Bishop Paul Loverde will bless the oils that our Arlington diocese churches will use over the next year. Even though he won’t be at every occasion, Bishop Loverde will send these blessed oils out to the priests for use with the faithful in each parish.

During the Mass, Bishop Loverde here or your bishop in your home diocese will bless the oil of catechumens, the oil of the sick, and the oil of chrism. The first is used for adult catechumens and infants, the second for anointing the sick, and the sacred oil of chrism for baptism, confirmation, the ordination of priests, and the consecration of altars. So whether it is baptism, confirmation, holy orders, or anointing the sick, the celebrant will take out the oils and make us a “greasy people” who are blessed by Christ as priest, prophet and king. (Our use of such oils also was reinforced Monday when the Gospel passage reminded us how Mary used the jar of spikenard to anoint Jesus preparing him for his death.)

According to an essay by Fr. Cyprian Consiglio, a blogging Camaldolese monk, musician and teacher, “Just as we share in the prophecy and priesthood of Jesus by virtue of our Baptism, so we share in his royalty. We give thanks because God has made us fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light, and transferred us into the kingdom of Jesus. Paul says that the fullness of the Godhead dwelt in Jesus bodily, and the Gospel of John begins by telling us that from the fullness we have all received, grace upon grace (John 1:16). So let us pray that we too would be royalty as Jesus was a king––broken and poured out––so that we can exercise our dominion in the world in the way our king does, from the cross, the greatest as the servants, with the towel around our waist washing each other’s feet.”


Today also provides us a prime opportunity to remember how the Lord served those whom he called friends by washing their feet. How will you use the Holy Thursday experience to inspire your service to those who need you?

No comments: