The Gospel Today
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.”
Reflection (Sem. Edgar Calma):
Actions speak louder than words. In one of the presentation skills trainings that I had attended several years ago, we were informed that people would normally have the tendency to remember the gestures or actions made during a formal presentation as compared to what has been said or verbalized by the speaker. That is why the invitation during the workshop was to be able to create a greater audience impact by matching the words with the appropriate actions or gestures where the senses would be maximized for better understanding and retention.
As I reflected on the Gospel for today, it gives a very powerful example of matching words with actions: “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Master and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I, then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you also must wash one another’s feet. I have given you an example, that as I have done, you also may do.” These words of our Lord Jesus Christ, show the unity of His actions and His words. Throughout His public ministry, He has shown to his disciples both in words and in deeds, how it is to become a true follower of the Master. His life is a living testimony of what He himself preaches. He came not to be served but to serve. The summit of His ultimate sacrifice as a servant was when He suffered, crucified and died on the cross for the salvation of mankind… which is the greatest manifestation of His great love shown in His deeds.
In our day to day life, we are all called and invited to imitate our Lord Jesus Christ in aspiring to practice what we say and do, as we give ourselves for the service of other people. This will entail being able to walk the talk and become role models to our family and the community where we belong. I recall a very inspiring television advertisement several years back on role modelling specially to the youth. The striking message of the television advertisement was “Sa mata ng bata, ang ginagawa ng matatanda ay nagiging tama.” This means that even though how persistent a father will be in restraining his child not to engage in smoking at an early age, if he himself is a chain smoker, his actions will speak louder compared to his words of restraint. On the other hand, when a father’s words are his actions, his message will come across loud and clear, simple and concrete… easy to follow because there is coherence.
As Christians, we are always reminded to profess our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ through our words and deeds. This will entail witnessing and embracing the Gospel values of love, compassion, mercy and genuine service especially to the least and the lost in our community. And may the imagery of the washing of the feet, as Christ showed it to his disciples, become a living reminder to all of us that what we speak are concretized through our actions.