John 13: 1 – 17
“Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”
How do you know if somebody really loves you? It’s wonderful, yes, to hear them say the words, “I love you.” “I love you,” is balm for the soul.
Words on their own, however, will never draw us into the extraordinary experience of being loved. When did you last feel really loved? It is a ‘whole of self’ experience isn’t it. It involves our feelings, our bodies, our very ‘inner most’ selves. Frankly it can be a little scary, maybe because it is so humbling to allow another person to touch us, through their loving, in such a vulnerable and profound way.
Jesus washing the feet of his disciples in John 13 is one of the most humbling, human and intimate stories in scripture. One man – revered, courageous, utterly compassionate, making a loving offering of himself in such a heartbreaking farewell. One man – demonstrating through an act of utter self-giving, the truth and reality of his love. A love like this is deeply personal, not some kind of universal goodwill. Jesus’ washing of the feet of ‘his own’ makes real their invitation into relationship, home, belonging.
Imagine somebody kneeling before you, holding your feet in his hands, washing your feet, drying your feet. How do you respond to the intimacy of such a demonstration of love? Where do you look?
Jesus charges us, “If I your Lord and Teacher have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.”
We know we are called to extend Jesus’ offer of love to those around us. (Even those who are difficult to love…who have betrayed us!) How do I do this?
Words are ok, and sometimes very helpful. It is, however, humble, loving, self-giving, human engagement which in some way breaks through fear and pride, at a life changing level, and opens us to the possibility that God’s love might just be real.
Who do I need to love today?