Day 1 — A model to follow
Read: John 13:12-15, 33-35
The beautifully humble act of foot washing summarizes the meaning of Jesus’s whole life. On the night before his crucifixion, when he is betrayed by Judas and denied by Peter, Jesus shows his disciples the way of self-giving, sacrificial love. With the washbowl and towel, Jesus takes the role of the servant and demonstrates what his life has been about and what his death will mean. Jesus calls his symbolic action “a model to follow,” urging his disciples to “wash one another’s feet” (vv. 14-15 NABRE). Serving others in this generous and humble way is the standard for the Christian life.
Although Jesus was departing from this life to a place where the disciples could not follow him, Jesus said he would remain with them and the world would still encounter him as they follow his new commandment and love as he loved (vv. 33-34). Although the command is based on a very ancient charge, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18 NABRE), it is new because it is the commandment of the new covenant, the new relationship between God and his people founded on the self-giving life and sacrificial death of Jesus. It is new because the love itself is new; it is the love of Jesus being shared in a communion of love by his disciples.
This love of Jesus within his followers is the clearest sign of Christian discipleship (v. 35). Christians recognize one another by a single sign—loving with the love of Christ. When we fail to love in this way, we hide Christ’s presence from the eyes of others, and we conceal his risen life in the church. Through humble acts of service and self-giving generosity done in imitation of Jesus, we become effective signs of his love and help to overcome the disbelief of the world.
REFLECT: If the standard of love is now the love with which Jesus has loved us, what are some of the characteristics of this love?
PRAY: God of infinite love, whose love overflows from your Son into our world, teach me to rid my life of selfishness and to love sacrificially with the love of your Son, Jesus our Lord.
By Stephen J. Binz, Catholic biblical scholar, speaker, and author of over 50 books, including Threshold Bible Study. His graduate work in Scripture is from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome and Jerusalem. The website for his work is www.Bridge-B.com.
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