The Lord at the Feet and the Table – the Mercy Incarnated and Shared
First Reading: Ex 12, 1-8. 11-14
Second Reading: 1 Cor 11, 23-26
Gospel: Jn 13, 1-15
The most important events that mark this day as a Great Day – an ever memorable Covenantal day – are the Lord’s washing of the feet of his apostles and the sharing of his body and blood with his disciples. Both these events mark the most sublime expressions of his unconditional love and infinite mercy to them.
The invisible outpouring of the God’s love and mercy begun at incarnation through his self-emptying, is reaching its completion at these two significant events. God’s self-emptying love and mercy is visibly presented and made felt through these acts of humility and servitude; love and sacrifice.
God’s love and mercy is infinite! It is immeasurable, boundless and incomparable! God’s love and mercy is complete and perfect, both qualitatively and quantitatively. The foot-washing and the breaking of the bread by the Lord, are concrete expressions of God’s love and mercy en toto.
At the washing of the feet, we have the heavens descended on earth; and Divine on knees at the foot of the humans! At the sharing of the Bread we have the Divine broken to commune with the human! Such is the depth and breadth of the divine mercy and love. Indeed, indescribable in words, totally ineffable! Even if all the souls and hearts, who are already and who are not yet, are filled with his mercy, it will remain the same without beginning or end. For he is eternal, and his mercy endures forever.
Pope Francis introduces Jesus as the ‘mercy-face’ of God the Father. Jesus with the towel tied around him is the Divine in humble service of humanity. He has come a long way in humility and mercy for us. The Holy Father exhorts and challenges us that if God has been so humble and merciful in serving the humanity, how much more we ought to be at the service of our common humanity? The Pope challenges the church, the clergy, the leaders, the religious and all those in privileged positions to take off the outer robe (Jn 13, 4) of pride and prestige; power and positions; elitism and exclusivism, and to put on the garment of mercy and love to be in humble service of humanity. The Pope ‘went’ a long way into the prison cells, seeking after who are ‘bound’ and deprived to wash their feet and to share their joy and sorrow. If Jesus presented the ‘mercy-face’ of God to us, Pope Francis presents the ‘mercy-face’ of Jesus to the world today.
It is comfortable to stay in convents and highly secured villages. It is convenient to travel in luxury cars and it is prestigious remain secluded and ‘elite.’ But the example that Jesus sets before us through the washing of the feet and the sharing of his body and blood is one of self-emptying, humility and service. And the Pope tirelessly exhorts us to follow the model of Jesus’ humility and service.
Let the celebration of these mysteries – the mysteries of God’s infinite love and mercy – in this year of mercy, enable us to be aware of the merciful presence of God who is constantly in humble service of His creation and set us also on mode of humble service of all creation in love and mercy.