“Preach the Gospel at all times.
When necessary, use words.”
― Francis of Assisi
(Mother Teresa’s bare feet)
I’ve used this image of Mother Teresa’s feet before in a previous post—
it was a post for a previous Easter that touched not only on the notion
of Jesus’ example of the washing of feet, but it explored our obsession with health,
wealth and all things fit and beautiful.
Like hands, feet are a good indicator of the type of life one has lived.
Rough, calloused and gnarly…
smooth, soft and pampered…
I tend to like the first notion…as in rough, calloused and gnarly being signs of
at best, a life really lived to the fullest….
at the least, lived to the best of ones abilities as
things had perhaps never been easy nor comfortable.
I find there is more character to be found in the rougher, harder, calloused side to living.
Following that evening meal of so long ago, a chain of events had been set in motion
and there was no turning back…
hope no longer remained in avoiding the inevitable.
I imagine everyone in the room that quiet night had a sense that things were to be
different very soon but as to exactly how, only one knew for sure.
The mood was somber…and not just because it had been a meal intended to
commemorate and reflect upon the struggles of a people from a previous time,
but rather because the master of ceremonies
himself was obviously melancholy as his thoughts were far removed.
Just as I know other types of jobs and services stress this same sort of approach,
in education, teachers are constantly reminded of the importance of leading by example.
Don’t just tell it or say it….
Do it and show it!!!!!
This so others may see.
Visual and tactile learning create a most lasting impression.
So Jesus set out that evening to do that very thing…
one more time…
to lead by example.
The point wasn’t just to wash feet.
Feet, as important as they are, are considered pretty lowly.
They aren’t the prettiest things to look at what with their bunions, hammer toes,
ingrown toe nails and rough cracked skin…
they can be oddly shaped, they get dirty quickly,
they usually stay covered up…for a reason,
and they are not the first things we prefer to look at,
plus they can smell.
Not good combinations.
So dealing with people and their feet has always been looked at,
other than from a podiatrist’s point of view, as something somewhat subservient….
especially if the feet are rough looking, with dirty cracked and broken nails…
Not the first thing most folks want to caress and love on…unless they’re a bit odd.
So naturally when Jesus set about wanting to wash everyones feet, he was quickly and
It was embarrassing to have the Master wash the dirty, dusty, dry feet of the followers.
Think of a General wanting to do such for a private…
As that’s exactly what it was like.
But the washing wasn’t the lesson.
It was the leading by example.
The doing of and the action of that which would be otherwise considered lowly and less than,
being done to another…
As the recipient of such, that of the the washed,
would be thought to be more highly than the washer….
It was the notion of serving with the serving being of such a lowly but very respectful
and loving manner…that that was the key.
Doing something so lowly but doing it in pure unselfish care and love…
Mother Teresa’s feet are examples of a person who worked long and hard all her life—
her feet do not lie.
She toiled on those feet her entire life…always for others.
Being with Dad’s caregivers day in and day out, assisting as they had to turn dad from
side to side as I had to hold him up on his side towards me just so they
could wipe his bottom, cleaning him after he had soiled himself….
I marveled at the care and thoroughness in which one caregiver in particular
went about her task.
I don’t think I could have done or do what she did and does.
Taking care of the most basic needs of a human—
feeding and then cleaning…much as one does for a baby.
Baby’s are cute.
Old cancer ridden bodies that smell and are wasting are not.
As the days passed, physically moving dad was difficult as he winced and cried in pain…
but the cleaning still needed to be done…
And it was done with dignity, compassion…as
that is the rough, calloused, gnarly example of what love is all about…
“Love one another as I have first loved you…..”
And with the best way always being by example…..
The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas,
the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus.
Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power,
and that he had come from God and was returning to God;
so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.
After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet,
drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied,
“not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet;
their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.”
For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said
not every one was clean.
When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place.
“Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them.
“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.
Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should
wash one another’s feet.
I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.
Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master,
nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.
Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.