Many years ago, I wore a leg cast for six weeks following a skiing accident. I still remember how wonderful it felt to finally have the doctor remove the cast and then gently wash my itchy leg with warm, soapy water. Years later while participating in a “Care Through Touch” internship in San Francisco, I spent one Holy Thursday afternoon washing and massaging the feet of women and men at a homeless shelter. Many had spent days, weeks and even longer walking the streets of the city. Although their shoes were worn, their socks dirty and thin, and their feet tired, blistered and swollen, each person was treated as a dignified guest. Unlike Peter, those served seemed to relish the human touch as their feet were gently washed and dried and then anointed with soothing, healing oil.
These experiences remind me of John’s Gospel which describes Jesus washing the feet of his disciples on the night before he died. Peter was reluctant to have Jesus wash his feet, but eventually relented. Jesus had given his friends an example of true discipleship. He wanted them to learn to wash each other’s feet. I don’t think Jesus was only concerned about dirty feet. He was asking his followers and us to serve others and to accept the service of others as well.
How am I using my gifts to serve others? How willingly do I accept the services of others? Can I do both lovingly and graciously like Jesus?