When we think of the Mystical Supper on Holy Thursday, our thoughts normally are directed to Christ’s institution of the Holy Eucharist. However, another amazing occurrence took place, which may be overlooked. After the meal, our Lord took a basin of water and washed the feet of His Apostles! He does this despite their protests and misgivings, gently explaining to them: “For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is he who is sent greater then he who sent him.” (John 13:15-16)
Following this simple act, Christ explains its meaning: Just as He is a servant of God and mankind, so must we serve God and our fellowman. With this undertaking, He shows us what it truly means to be both a leader and a servant.
What a wonderful lesson in HUMILITY this is for us! If we want to be viewed as “great” in the eyes of our Heavenly Father, we must be willing to SERVE, and not expect others to SERVE US! It was not below Christ’s dignity to do this lowest of tasks. It will be the humble, not the haughty, who will inherit the Kingdom of God.
In Cathedrals on Holy Thursday, it is often customary for Bishops to wash the feet of twelve individuals in remembrance of this pious expression of humility shown by Christ. We are reminded of Christ’s sacrificial love for us and how we should surrender to Him.