Thursday, April 21, 2011

Down in adoration falling...

I have been an "apostle" for the Holy Thursday Mass foot washings four times now. In the latter two I was snatched up by a priest who doesn't plan the washings a week beforehand, but goes around the pews before the Thursday Mass and finds men who have come early, and sort of says to them, "You can be one of the apostles". Thus at this parish I have learned to come just as Mass is beginning.

There is nothing wrong with selecting men that way (and I'm quite pliable and don't resent it; but I'm a back-pew sort of person); no more so than finding men a week before. Actually, I think it's better. Sort of like the way Jesus seemed to choose His apostles: hey, come with me.

That way also seems to make the actual feet washing ceremony less extravagant; just something to be done quickly. I remember one large parish in which I was asked to be an "apostle" some weeks beforehand. There was a practice before the Mass, and the actual washing was more extravagant. I even recall there was someone taking pictures of the whole thing. And we "apostles" all received chocolates afterward, which was nice.

But I do not think the washing of the feet should be so emphasized - not to the detriment of Holy Thursday being the Lord's institution of His Eucharist. We have the feast of Corpus Christi, but we also have Holy Thursday. Or maybe that should read: we have the Institution of the Lord's Eucharist, and we also have Corpus Christi.

At that large parish mentioned above, they had exposition of the Blessed Sacrament after that Holy Thursday Mass until midnight, for those wanting to keep vigil with Jesus. It was beautiful, kneeling there on the hard floor, in the dim light. I had had my feet washed.

Jesus said, "If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you."

He did not say, "I have only given you an example." When Jesus washed His disciples' feet, He was washing them of their sins through sacramental absolution, and likely not for the first time.

It's pretty clear what Jesus says in the reading, and the ceremony of the priest washing the feet of the men should speak for itself. We don't need to hear in the homily about what it means to wash our neighbours' feet. By this way, the social-justice, above-the-left-and-the-right lefty liberal would detract from the Institution of the Lord's Eucharist, and from the fact that if it wasn't God Himself who washed those apostles' feet (among them the feet of Judas) imparting to them first and foremost absolution of their sins (to which Judas was not disposed), then all the talk in the world about washing our neighbours' feet, indeed, all action taken to "wash our neighbours' feet", is worthless.

And that's not even to mention what He instituted: the ultimate service, sacramentally pre-manifesting the service of His death on the Cross.

Have people even had their own feet washed first by Jesus?

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