Friday, April 18, 2014

April 17, 2014: Holy Thursday A

Do you remember the first time that you changed a dirty diaper? I saw a funny compilation on America’s Funniest Video of new dads attempting to change the diaper of their new born. Many dads gagged after they carefully peeled away the diaper when they saw what was in there. Some dads put laundry clips on their nose or wore a mask. One dad put on a HAZMAT chemical suit with the SCUBA respirator; he sounded like Darth Vader and looked like he was about to enter into a radioactive spill. Meanwhile the wives were filming all this and were quite amused, for they do change the diapers all the time without all the drama. How does a mom do this with such ease? It’s her great love of her child who is the flesh of her flesh, bone of her bone; her great love compels her to bend down and clean her child of dirt.

The love of a mother for a soiled child offers us a window into what Jesus did for the disciples at the Last Supper. Everything was ready for the Passover meal in the Upper Room when Jesus stood up and took his tunic off, wrapped himself in a towel, picked up a basin and filled it with water. Each disciple was astonished disciple as Jesus washed his feet and dried them with the towel. They didn’t react until Peter protested, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus replied, “What I am doing you do not know now, but afterward you will understand. If I do not wash you, you have no part in me.” Only servants and women were the ones who washed and cleaned the feet of another. What Jesus offered the disciples was profound, humble love. “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.”

This humble love took on even greater dimension at the Last Supper, when Jesus offered himself as the Paschal lamb to be eaten. “This is my body...this is my blood.” The disciples remembered the words from Jesus that prompted so many disciples to leave him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” At the Last Supper, Jesus lowers himself even more -- to become food for us -- because of his profound love for us and because without this food, we will not be able to make the Exodus from death to eternal life.

We Christians are called to become the image of Christ, to reflect him. We are called to incarnate him in our lives, to clothe our lives with him, so that others can see him in us, recognize him in us. God offers us risk, danger and a strange insecurity that leads to perfect security. His security begins when we start loving God with our whole heart, our whole mind, our whole soul and our neighbor as ourselves. With the Holy Spirit in us, we have the courage to risk loving the neighbor, the courage to wash his feet of dirt.