Holy Thursday 2021
The Gospel reading that the Church chose for today seems to me strange for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at which the Eucharist is honored. In John’s Gospel there is no mention of the institution of the Eucharist during the Last Supper or anywhere else, though some claim the discourse on the Bread of Life ( Jn. 6:22-71) substitutes for it.
No, instead the Gospel’s focus is on Jesus’ washing of the feet of his disciples, including Judas, though Jesus is fully aware that he would soon betray him. When he comes to wash Peter’s feet, that apostle responds as usual, questioning why Jesus would do such a thing.
While Jesus says very little about the meaning of his action, he says it is what we must also do. That’s why we ritualize the washing of feet after the homily, having the priest celebrant wash the feet of representatives of the parish family, which unfortunately will not be done this year.
Jesus is teaching us by his action that our true identity is found in beings servants to each other in imitation of him. By washing the feet of Judas, Jesus reminds us to love and serve even those who hurt us in some manner or another. From Peter, we learn that we must graciously accept the service of another rather than to reject the service of that person’s care.
Especially today we must learn both lessons. Jesus certainly cared for people, but he also let them care for him. Witness to that fact by his accepting dinner invitations, asking the Samaritan women for a drink of water, letting his feet be bathed with tears of a supposedly sinful woman and dried with her hair, and, as final example, having Mary, the sister of Lazarus, anoint his feet with a jar of costly of costly perfumed oil.
Serve and let others serve you in this pandemic crisis and welcome the opportunity to be like Jesus.
 Based on an insight by Eileen Connelly, OSU, in Franciscan Media, April 9, 2020.