Foot Washing on Holy Thursday

Pedicure. That was my first thought when Fr. Mike asked our family to participate in that year’s Holy Thursday Liturgy. He was calling to invite us to have our feet washed, citing our service to the church that year, as one of the reasons we came to mind. While we had been attending Mass for a few years, this was actually to be my first Holy Thursday Liturgy. Although not a convert, the Triduum (3 days leading into Easter Sunday) services had never been a part of my family’s activities growing up. I am embarrassed to say, my only knowledge of the Holy Thursday Liturgy was the priest performing a foot washing of twelve people (to represent Jesus washing the feet of the twelve Apostles). So, it was no surprise my first thought was … pedicure.
My ignorance was truly bliss, because when I finally got seated facing the large congregation, and kicked off my flip flop (I certainly didn’t want my foot to get sweaty or stinky in a shoe), my honor of being asked turned to anxiety. My heart had yet to be touched by Jesus, and my Mass attendance was quite honestly all about me and appearances. At that moment, I was not attuned to the powerful significance of reenacting Jesus’ humble act of bending down to wash the Apostles feet. His profound message of do as I do, so must you go forth and do to others, meant nothing. I beamed with pride at my cute little family, perfectly attired and my toes perfectly painted. Hoping all those eyes on us saw that polished picture I was trying to project. Sadly, that was all I took away from that experience.
Fast-forward just five years and everything has changed. My life had been completely transformed by a simple invitation to bible study. In those nights studying God’s word, I discovered a God that loved me so much that He would send HIS only son to die for my sins so that I may have eternal life. I encountered and befriended a Jesus, that was not distant or part of my superficial reasons for attending Mass (socialization and a stay-out –of-hell safety net) , but my Savior. I fell in love with Jesus, His teachings and all of the beauty the Catholic faith had to offer. Sadly, circumstances disrupted the group I was studying and worshiping with. I found myself at a new church, floundering to belong and to settle in. Then came the invitation from Fr. Joe for my family to participate again in the Holy Thursday Liturgy; my now pre-teenage sons declined but my husband and I accepted.
My chair was placed at the very end of the row, next to a young woman confined to a wheel chair. Anna was at Mass every week with her single Dad. She smiled, cooed and clapped all throughout the Mass. Her delight at the privilege of coming to the table of the Lord never failed to draw my attention to that same privilege allotted me. As Father moved down the line towards us, Anna’s squeals grew in intensity. That was Jesus coming to meet her; coming to meet us. I slipped off my shoe, and then sock exposing my “desperately in need of a pedicure” toes. My heart, now in tuned to the magnitude of this moment, overflowed with gratitude to my Father in Heaven. The tears welled and flowed. My head lowered, partly to shield the tears from those witnessing and partly to keep the moment from slipping away too fast. I, like Peter at the moment of the Transfiguration, wanted to remain with my Lord forever.
Each Holy Thursday and Good Friday, we are presented the most amazing gift to transport ourselves back to those nights when the world was changed forever. When the Word become flesh, dwelling among us, offered himself for the expatiation of our sins.
Now we belong to yet another parish. My Pastor chooses a more traditional reenactment with only men. I was not insulted to be excluded; I love the opportunity to imagine how that night looked over 2000 years ago. As Father concludes wiping each foot, he bends to kiss it. The humility of that act always fills my heart and reminds me why I attend those special services – in the end it is not about me, it is all about Jesus.

Copyright 2016, Allison Gingras

Editor’s Note: This is Allison’s last post with us; we thank her for her service and dedication. If you’d like to keep up with her, her website is Reconciled to You.

Allison Gingras

Allison Gingras

Allison Gingras is founder of Reconciled To You and host of A Seeking Heart on Bread Box Media weekdays 10 am ET. Allison created the "Words with" daily devotional App Series. Allison offers retreats and presentations: Seeking Faith Series, Lessons from the Holy Family, and Technology & Evangelization.

Leave a Reply

next post: A Good Friday Reflection

previous post: “Father forgive them…” (Luke 23:24)