March 9, 2023
Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. John’s,
As our Archdiocese continues with the Synod process to revitalize our local church, we turn to Sacred Scripture to give us a foundation on how to go about this work. Archbishop Hebda’s Pastoral Letter looks to the Upper Room, also called the Cenacle, where three important events in the foundation of the Church occurred. Namely, the Washing of Feet, the Institution of the Eucharist, and Pentecost.
The Washing of Feet is one of Jesus’s most humbling acts. In that act, He made Himself the servant of His disciples, although He is their teacher. In that one act, Jesus shows the love God has for humanity as He humbles Himself and serves them. The washing of the feet signifies healing, being cleaned, and made new. For us as His disciples, this shows that God is willing to enter into the messiness of our humanity, to love, and to raise it up. Like Peter, we must allow ourselves to be loved and made new by divine love. God wants to heal us of any brokenness we have, and He does it by building up a bond of love with us.
When He finishes washing His disciples’ feet, Jesus says, “If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do” (John 13:14-15). We follow that command of Christ by serving and loving our neighbor as Jesus did for us. There is a lot of need in the world, but the greatest need that anybody has is for love. We as Christians are the ones who can bring that divine love to those who hunger for it.
One of the greatest places we can practice the Washing of Feet is in the family, what we often call the domestic Church. The family is where we first encounter love, in the tenderness of a mother and the strength of a father. The family is where the cleansing act of foot washing occurs, especially for the youth, “clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick, instructing the ignorant, counseling the doubtful, admonishing the sinner, bearing wrongs patiently, forgiving offenses, comforting the sorrowful, and praying for the living and the dead.” Those who are close to us are the ones we are called to love, and as they experience that divine love through us, they can begin to see in themselves God’s love for them and His willingness to humble Himself for them. From that foundation of love, they are then Called Forth to love as Jesus did for them.
As we continue with our Synod process, we remember the love Jesus shows us by humbling Himself in the Upper Room. Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, loving them and cleansing them, we receive that love and imitate it by washing the feet of those who are close to us. Our Lord began the tradition 2000 years ago in the Upper Room with His disciples, His disciples washed the feet of their disciples, passing the tradition throughout the years to us today. Now it is our turn to have our feet washed by Jesus so that we can be filled with divine love and share it with those close to us.
Father Joseph Nguyễn