Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota

Environmental Stewardship Commission (MEESC) Lectionary Reflection All Years, Maundy Thursday, Gospel

John 13:1-15

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."

After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord--and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.

Reflection on John 13:1-15 by John Gibbs, PhD

The quality of a lifetime becomes especially apparent in one's last acts before death arrives. Purposefulness is heightened almost to the breaking point. Deeds and words of the dying person burn themselves into our memory.

When Jesus "knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father," then is the moment that he chose to enact unforgettably the essence of the serving community. Washing feet is a most humble act of service. That is the deed He gave to each disciple. That is the deed that comprises His last will and testament to all of us: "For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you."

Who is to say that what He inaugurated was supposed to stop at the Church door, and not reach out beyond the Community's worship to its works in the whole world? As the Church lives within herself, rather, so lives the Church within her world of neighbors and all fellow creatures. Albert Schweitzer knew this. So did Francis of Assisi.

The Community that is by its newfound nature the serving community not only washes one another's feet. It also waters trees, drives back advancing deserts, safeguards its wild places from marauding quests for oil and ever more oil. The Church that serves within does not suddenly deny its essential nature by enslaving and despoiling without. A People captured by the Servant's example does not lord it over their whole landscape.

To Reflections on the other readings for Maundy Thursday:
Old Testament Exodus 12:1-14a
Psalm Psalm 78:14-20,23-25
New Testament 1 Corinthians 11:23-26(27-32)
Gospel John 13:1-15 or Luke 22:14-30
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John Gibbs, a retired theologian, attends Trinity Episcopal Church, Park Rapids, MN. He originally wrote this reflection in 2001. John and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to John Gibbs or any MEESC member, or mail them to:
MEESC Holy Trinity Church Box 65 Elk River, MN 55330-0065 USA

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