“I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” Jesus had just finished washing his disciples' feet when he said these words. He had risen from supper, interrupting His meal and time of relaxation. He had removed his outer garments, symbolically making Himself vulnerable to his disciples. He had tied a towel around His waste, assuming the position of a servant. He had poured water into a basin, bent down, washed His disciples' feet, and dried them with the towel. This job wasn't performed by just any servant; it was the task of the lowest ranking servant in the household, the one who got all the dirtiest jobs. Yet Jesus stooped to do it. He even said that it was necessary, telling the resistant Peter that unless he allows Jesus to wash his feet, he would have no inheritance with Him. These are pretty strong words. Peter must accept Jesus' gift with a grateful heart even if he doesn't understand it. When Jesus had finished, He removed the towel, put His outer garment back on, resumed His place at the table, and asked His disciples if they realized what He had done for them. The answer, of course, was “no,” so He told them clearly in the words quoted at the beginning of this reflection.
“I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” What must we do then? We must rise from our suppers to serve other people. We must give up some of our comforts and pleasures to put the needs of others first. We must make ourselves vulnerable to others, even at the risk that they might not understand or like us. We must assume the position of a servant towards others and take care of them tenderly without complaining. We must sometimes be willing to become the lowest of the low in the world's eyes so that we may reach the heights of Heaven. We must be willing to do the dirtiest of jobs when such things are required of us. We must stoop down to others in order to raise them up to God. Finally, we must realize and gratefully accept the the wonderful gifts that our Lord gives us, especially in the Eucharist, where He once again stoops down to us each and every day, making Himself vulnerable, as He gives us His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.