Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end. The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over. So, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, he rose from supper and took off his outer garments.
He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Master, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.” Jesus said to him, “Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over; so you are clean, but not all.” For he knew who would betray him; for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
So when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”
The Gospel of the Lord
Feast of Holy Thursday Gospel Reflection
Thursday, April 9, 2020
by Ellen Keane, SNDdeN
James O’Connell, MD, founder of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program recalls his first assignment to the Pine Street Inn, a shelter for homeless men in Boston. He shared the following experience as a young doctor and his encounter with the head nurse Barbara McInnis.
“Her initial greeting was met with my youthful skepticism: ‘You will do just fine if you listen to us and do what we say. You’ll have to forget much of what you were taught in residency.’ It was the words that followed that would bring me to my knees: ‘Nothing changes in the life of a homeless person unless you slow down and take the time to earn trust and develop a lasting relationship.’
Virtually all visits to the Nurses’ Clinic began with a foot-soak. The waiting area had ten chairs, all occupied by shelter guests soaking their feet in buckets of warm water mixed with an antibacterial. This ritual was instituted by the nurses not only for comfort and hygiene, but also as a sign of service and respect. And what would become the moment of Eucharist for me was the moment Barbara informed me that my apprenticeship would begin with a couple months of learning the art and skill of soaking feet. She set aside my stethoscope and doctor bag. No medical questions, no chief complaints, no review of systems, no diagnosing.
‘Just tend to the feet and ask what else you can do to help.’”
…. The account of the last supper narrated in John’s Gospel given flesh in the here and now in that beautiful ritual of the washing of the feet and Christ’s invitation to give flesh to that ritual in our relationships with others. For it is all about relationship. A tender touch… a reaching out to those in need is timeless, especially during this time of pandemic …
As we experience Christ’s passion in our own realities during these uncertain days may the words from the heart of Christ speak to our hearts … “as I have done for you, may you in turn do for one another.”
Meet Ellen Keane, SNDdeN
Sr. Ellen Keane entered Notre Dame at Ipswich, MA in 1963. Her ministries have included teaching, administration, pastoral counseling, retreat work, spiritual direction and training of spiritual directors. In 1981, she was invited to join in Notre Dame’s founding and developing a girls’ secondary school in Kakamega, Kenya where she ministered for twelve years. Those years in Kenya were a time of awakening to the richness and diversity of God’s goodness, a homecoming of sorts that has remained with her. Sr. Ellen currently ministers at the Spirituality Center in Ipswich, MA.