Holy Thursday Feet Washing
When COVID first hit, I celebrated the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday with only five people in the church. Public liturgies were not possible. In my homily in that empty church I said:
“John’s gospel is unique. Unlike Matthew, Mark, Luke and even Paul, John mentions no bread and wine at Jesus’ Last Supper. John’s focus is on something else: a humble act of service in washing the feet of his disciples. During this extraordinary time, when we must stay home and stay safe, we have no bread and wine to share with our parishioners gathered in homes throughout the area and participating in this Holy Thursday liturgy through social media. It is ironic that today we celebrate the gift of the Eucharist, but cannot share in receiving Holy Communion. How much more important it is this year to grasp and hold on tightly to that conviction that Jesus continues his humble service to each one of us.”
The following year, still in a time of social distancing, we had a public Mass for Holy Thursday with a limited number of people, but no foot washing. Last year, my first year with you here at St. John’s, we had a full church and the traditional foot washing done by the priest but not in accord with the custom here at St. John’s, when the assembly is invited to have their feet washed and to wash the feet of another.
This year, when we gather for the beginning of the Sacred Triduum, we will celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper with the washing of feet as is the custom here at St. John’s. All who wish will be invited forward to have his or her foot washed, and then wash another parishioner’s foot. Of course, one may choose to simply remain in the Assembly and witness this ritual, rather than directly participate in it. Humble service: it is the key to understanding the Eucharist and understanding our call to be disciples of the Lord.