REFLECTION FOR TODAY
April 29, 2021
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
When Jesus had washed the disciples’ feet, he said to them: “Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it.” Jn. 13:16-17
Jesus had just washed the feet of his disciples as presented by our gospel reference today. By doing so, He had performed an act of great humility and probably causing them some consternation. He then said, “If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it.” The question to ask yourself today is this: “Are you blessed?” Jesus says that you are blessed if you “understand” and “do” what He teaches His disciples. So, what did He teach them?
There is a great contrast between knowing and doing. This example of Jesus is clear. It is not enough simply to know God’s commandments. The blessing comes from doing the keeping of the commandments. One of Jesus’ clearest command is that we love one another as he has loved us. Jesus’ action of washing the feet of his disciples was both an act of humility and an act of love.
Jesus offers this prophetic action of humility and love when He took on the role of a slave by washing the disciples’ feet. His action was much louder than words, as the saying goes. The disciples were humbled by this act, and Peter, at first, refused it. There is little doubt that this humble act of service, by which Jesus lowered Himself before His disciples, made a strong impression upon them.
The worldly view of greatness is much different than the one Jesus taught. Worldly greatness is a process of elevating yourself in the eyes of others, striving to let them know just how good you are. Worldly greatness is often driven by a fear of what others may think of you, and a desire to be honored by all.
Jesus wants to be clear that we will only be great if we serve. We must humble ourselves before others, holding them and their goodness up, honoring them and showing them the deepest love and respect. By washing their feet, Jesus completely abandoned the worldly view of greatness and called His disciples to do the same.
Humility is difficult to understand at times. Therefore, Jesus said, “If you understand this…” He realized that the disciples, as well as all of us, will struggle with understanding the importance of humbling ourselves before others and serving them. But if you do understand humility, you will be “blessed” when you live it. You will not be blessed in the eyes of the world, but you will be truly blessed in the eyes of God.
Humility is especially accomplished when we purify our desire for honor and prestige, when we overcome all fear of being mistreated, and when, in place of this desire and fear, we desire abundant blessings upon others, even before ourselves. This love and humility are the only way to this mysterious and profound depth of love.
Reflect, today, upon this humble act of the Son of God, the Savior of the World, lowering Himself before His disciples, serving them as if He were a slave. Try to imagine yourself doing this for others. Think about various ways that you can more readily go out of your way to put others and their needs before your own. Seek to eliminate every selfish desire you struggle with and identify any fear that keeps you from humility. Understand this gift of humility and live it. Only then will you be truly blessed.
My humble Lord, You set for us the perfect example of love when You chose to serve Your disciples with great humility. Help me to understand this beautiful virtue and to live it. Free me from all selfishness and fear so that I may love others as You have loved us all. Jesus, I trust in You.