Today was and is a family day. This meal during the feast of unleavened bread was a prelude to the Passover meal. This was a family meal. I am sure all the disciples —men and women— were there. I am sure all were awed by Jesus washing their feet. This service of feet washing reserved for the lowliest of the household staff is another demonstration that tradition will not hold. The old ways are passing over. And, like Peter, we don’t always get the message of the acts we witness. Like Peter, we miss the deeper messages of acts performed for us and to us. Like the extroverted Peter, we blurt out our position, our discomfort. Yet Jesus, always patient, explains, “This is also yours to do.”
Whose feet need washing in my life? Whose feet need washing in our world? This is ours to do.
At the table was the blessing. At the table was the thanksgiving. Bread and wine are given and transformed. A touchstone is handed to us and a challenge issued to us: “Do this in remembrance of me.” What is that challenge but to share thanksgiving, Eucharist? It is to be Eucharist. To share the Body and Blood of Jesus and to be the body and life force of Jesus in our world, at whatever table we sit. We are called to live Eucharistically as sacrifice and as gift. This has everything to do with gratitude and everything to do with generosity. Jesus gives all, his whole self. So we are challenged to do. So we are invited to do.
Alexander Schmemann says, “ Eucharist is the sacrament of the cosmic remembrance: it is indeed a restoration of love as the very life of the world.” In the daily acts of our lives we, too, can share in the cosmic remembrance by simple acts of compassion, generosity, and love. In our Eucharistic encounters with Jesus, we too are meshed into the redemptive act. We too are webbed to the cosmic activity of the Christ.
The Dominican mystic Eckhart challenges us to live the intimacy of the Eucharistic union. He says “Your heart and His will be one heart; your body and His, one body.” What an astonishing gift we receive! What an astonishing gift we make commonplace: the union of our humanity with that of the humanity of Christ. The union of divinity with the fabric of our soul. And it is at that moment and from those moments we can say with the poet Mary Oliver, “My work is loving the world.”
We are here to continue the Passover of the Lord to redeem our world as doing this in remembrance. Whether we march, walk, protest, write, pray, dialogue, weep, nurse, teach, comfort etc., whoever we are, whatever our gifts and limitations after coming from this table, we are mandated to give of ourselves to serve, to be a piece of the continual remembrance.
In his poem The Wreck of the Deutschland, Gerard Manley Hopkins says “let him Easter in us….”. Perhaps today we should say “let him Eucharist in us.” Let us be broken and shared, consumed and distributed. Let us participate at the table of life and practice the call of this thanksgiving challenge to service at the table of living.
In this country divided and angry, let us find ways to be healers and peace-givers. In these times of personal attacks, let us be examples of personal caregivers. Let us wash the feet of not only immigrants but of ICE officers. Let us wash the feet of refugees and border guards. Let us wash the feet of those who are gay and those who are homophobic. Let us wash the feet of those who experience gun violence and those who are of the NRA. Let us be the servants we are called to be. Let us bridge the divides. Let us let the cosmic Christ continue to heal the world through us.
As we relive the mystery of our redemption, may we not just remember but renew our promise to proclaim the Lord until He comes again.
Let Him eucharist in us. Let Him eucharist in us.