Monday, February 07, 2011

Foot Washing

Peter said to him, "You will never wash my feet." Jesus answered him, "Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me." Simon Peter said to him, "Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well."

John 13:8-9.

Before the twelve were sent out to wash the feet of others, Jesus made a point of washing their feet, first. This is a great model of servant-leadership--for the twelve, not just for Jesus.

All too often, leaders forget they are servants. In outreach work, a reverse problem exists: all too often leaders forget to be served. We can be too proud, too independent, too self-assured. Some of us have accepted help in the past but have forgotten the lessons for the present. If we do not let our feet be washed, too--and let them be continually washed--we could be at risk of falling into co-dependent patterns or fostering a subtle arrogance.

We want to help "those people," and there is a distancing in those words. It is important to believe--and truly believe--that there but for the grace of God go I.

Before any of us goes into the business of doing Christian outreach work "for the poor," it may be a fine idea if we cultivate an intentional aspect of our lives where we allow ourselves to be served. Even if have already been there before, it is important to be in the present with this.

The intentional poverty of the Catholic Worker movement goes a long way toward this end. However, since the poverty is intentional, what often happens in practice is that a true solidarity with the poor is hard to achieve. Intentional poverty is not the only way to achieve this, though.

If/when the Columbus Catholic Worker is revitalized, I would like to suggest that all who participate maintain as aspect of foot washing in their lives--both the giving and receiving.


Anonymous said...

Very good point, but one need not serve a prison sentence in order to minister to those in prison.

Frank L said...

Right. There has to be a way to relate to people and respect them without having to go through exactly the same experiences. Having some element in our lives where we allow ourselves to both give and receive goes a long way toward this end.