Psalm 116:1, 10-17 ; Exodus 12:1-14; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; John 13:1-17, 31b-35
Last Supper, Eduard von Gebhardt, German/Estonian, 1870 oil on canvas, National Gallery Berlin
See, even back in the Bible you needed to wash for 20 seconds…
This whole idea that we’re called to get down on our knees and serve is hard. Most of us are fine with hard work, with the kind of service where we’re standing proudly upright working up a sweat. Or raising funds and organizing and keeping things running, furrowing our brows to come up with the right answer to a complex problem. My experience is that the vast majority of people, the overwhelming majority of Christians, are ready to sign up for those kinds of labor, to swing a hammer, crank up the chainsaw or pass out hot dinners to the hungry, to put together a great party for a great cause or send in a check in a moment of need. What’s a lot harder is to do the stuff that doesn’t get applauded, that actually doesn’t even get noticed.
We’re in the middle of a national crisis and yet the trash is still being picked up, the shelves still being stocked, the goods are still being delivered, the crops still being planted. Most of the time, the folks who do those things go rather unnoticed, except if someone’s griping about too many trucks on the interstate (which was designed for trucks and military, not for casual shopping trips to the Big City) or the way the fields smell after an application of liquid manure. Such jobs are ministries, friends: like Jesus washing feet, the people who do them get little applause. Okay, dear Angela Merkel called grocery stockers national heroes in her address to the German people a couple of weeks ago, but who listens to German speeches? This is the day when the Church reminds us rather forcefully of the importance of such ministries, such jobs. Jesus, with only a few hours of liberty left, chose to do such a job rather than to pontificate or preside or predict or plan. Because it’s in doing the unnoticed, the unapplauded, that we can sometimes make the biggest difference.