“Do you realize what I have done for you?”
Have you ever noticed that often the most important things of life are the things that take the most time to really sink in?
How many years I lived as a baptized Christian, unaware of the meaning of that baptism. How many times did I receive Holy Communion unaware of the gift God had given of Himself? How many times had I gone to Confession and been offered forgiveness but not actually realized it? Many times indeed.
After my ordination to the priesthood, I distinctly remember sitting in the Adoration Chapel at Our Lady of Mercy just staring at my hands. I would look at my hands and look at the Eucharist, over and over again wondering ‘God, what did you do to me?’ I had been preparing for years for ordination and understood intellectually the meaning of every ritual action and the abilities and responsibilities of the priest, but actually living it was different. Staring at my hands, I wondered at how I was able to bless people and objects in the name of God Himself. How my hands would be used to brings about forgiveness of sins, the Eucharistic Presence, the Anointing of Sick, and much more. To this day I still find myself from time to time staring at my hands wondering what God did to me on that day.
The Gospel we just heard told of the Twelve sitting around the table of the Passover Meal with the Lord Jesus and having Him come around to each of them to wash their feet. Doing so, He tells them, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.” As He performed this humble act of service to His chosen leaders of the future Church, the disciples surely could not have expected what came next. They couldn’t have expected the Lord to ordain them His priests. They couldn’t’ have expected Him to give them His Body and Blood, commissioning them to do them same in the future. They couldn’t have expected the brutality their humble shepherd would soon receive from their religious and secular leaders. They didn’t understand, but later they would. It took time to grasp what the Lord really did in their midst and it is true of us today.
So we come here each and every year to this most Holy of Weeks and listen to the account once more, permitting us not just to hear it but to enter into it. Tonight we sit around the table with Jesus and receive the Eucharist as at that Blessed Night and watch the Twelve have their feet washed once more by one acting in the Person of Christ the Head. Tomorrow we will honor the Holy Cross and the death of Jesus for us. Saturday we will wit in sacred silence anticipating the Resurrection and at the Vigil will proclaim it with every light, bell, and voice in the house. We don’t come expecting a new story. We come expecting to hear the same story, trusting that our God wants to draw us deeper into it, helping us to understand better the gifts we are to receive.
“Do you realize what I have done for you?’