12 After he washed the disciples’ feet, he put on his robes and returned to his place at the table. He said to them, “Do you know what I’ve done for you? 13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you speak correctly, because I am. 14 If I, your Lord and teacher, have washed your feet, you too must wash each other’s feet. 15 I have given you an example: just as I have done, you also must do. 16 I assure you, servants aren’t greater than their master, nor are those who are sent greater than the one who sent them. 17 Since you know these things, you will be happy if you do them.” (Jn 13:12-17, CEB)
The call to leadership is the call to serve. It is the call to do the mundane things everyone else isn’t paying attention to. It is to do the “cruddy” stuff when everyone else is thinking, “I’m not touching that!”
Pope Francis I will commemorate Maundy Thursday, and this passage, by washing the feet of youth offenders in jail.
Foot washing is part of the ceremony of the day as we remember the actions of Christ.
Serving in the ordinary should be the action that follows. Jesus picked up the tools of the servant to do what no other person in that room was willing to do. It was a job that needed doing, so he showed the way. Then, he let the disciples know, “This is what I expect of your life.”
Foot washing today is the ceremony. There is nothing wrong with that commemoration.
It’s what happens after this day that determines if we are really people of the basin and the towel.
Am I willing to serve in the mundane?
Am I willing to pick up the jobs that need to be done and do them without the need for applause when it is finished?
Do I want to do a “foot washing” only so I can put the picture on Facebook?
We need the example of the Savior. Serve. And don’t let anyone else know about it. Just get the job done and move on.
“I have given you an example: just as I have done, you also must do.” (Jn. 13:15, CEB)