I looked for a new aspect of the event to get me back on track.
It occurred to me that Christ had just washed the feet of the man who - any moment now - would enter the garden and betray Him.
How did that feel?
How Did He Do It?!
Would we have washed Judas’ feet? Would we have performed such a humiliating task for the very person we already knew was going to hand us over to be scourged, hit, spat on, have thorns stuck into our head, and be forced to carry a heavy cross - so we could be attached to it with big nails driven through our hands and feet?
That’s what makes Jesus’ act of humility even more amazing. Not only was He performing a slave’s job for His followers. He already knew Judas was going to betray Him - “And you are clean, though not every one of you” (v. 10) - yet Jesus washed his feet, too! That demanded enormous love.
The article Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet reads: “For the love that is evident in the laying down of life at the crucifixion is also demonstrated in the laying down of life in humble service in the footwashing.”
On Maundy Thursday we witness the commemoration of that night as the priest washes the feet of twelve parishioners. And I always wonder why those particular twelve are chosen? What are the criteria for having your feet washed in church? (Thankfully I’ll never qualify - no one wants to see my sorry toes!)
One year our pastor called up twelve young men who’d expressed an interest in the priesthood. That was beautiful, and I appreciated the worthiness of those parishioners to be recognized in public.
But another priest recounted how he’d desperately not wanted to wash the feet of a particular church member, because the man was openly and loudly critical of him. For that very reason the priest’s spiritual director ordered him to include that man in the Maundy Thursday line-up.
It was very hard - humiliating and humbling – but the priest obeyed and bathed his enemy’s feet.
Now that's impressive!
Christ’s humility that night – washing all twelve disciples’ feet when He was aware that one of them would soon double-cross Him – is certainly something to recall when reciting the Agony in the Garden decade on the Rosary.