LENTEN DEVOTION for Thursday, March 29



God in Christ: rid me of my pride and pretension, that I might truly serve my friend and foe.



John wrote: Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table,took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?" Jesus answered, "You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand." Peter said to him, "You will never wash my feet." Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no share with me." Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!" Jesus said to him, "One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you." For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, "Not all of you are clean."

From Abba Dorotheos of Gaza: Among the seniors it used to be told how a brother asked one of the elders, "What is humility?" And the elder replied, "Humility is a great and divine work and the road to humility is labor, bodily labor, while seeking to know one's self and to put one's self below everyone else and praying to God about everything: this is the road to humility, but humility itself is something divine and incomprehensible." 


Maundy Thursday is the day we remember the way Jesus taught us how to love one another: by washing the feet of his disciples. Here is an act of service: Jesus wipes feet dusted with the dirt of their journey. Here is an act of humility: Jesus kneels in a posture below his followers.

Humility is hard to describe. It is best shown, as Abba Dorotheos explained. It is shown in the upper room when Jesus cleans feet with his own garments. This is the precursor to the cross, where Jesus lays down his life for his friends. "He loved them to the end," John wrote.

There is a spontaneity to Jesus' action here. While Christians often wash one another's feet in remembrance of what Jesus did, the washing is not meant to be mimicked but embodied in artless acts of love. The disciples wore sandals and the like-their feet were covered with dirt and dust. Washing feet was a lowly, but necessary act. So what needed thing can we do for our friends, neighbors and foes? What extemporaneous deed can we do this day that might seem a bit below us? What is a concrete way we can show humble love wherever we are and with whatever we have?

The world needs more washing of feet. It needs more unprompted acts of care and service. Or, in popular parlance, it needs more random acts of kindness. Our world needs "something divine and incomprehensible": an act of selfless love.


Turn my prayer into action this holy day. Amen.


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