Letters to Jesus (Similes, Metaphors & Paradoxes)- 4
All my life I have listened to the words You spoke to Peter and the apostles at the Last Supper: “If I do not wash you, you have no part in me.” All my life I have taken it as a bit of counseling about where the lines were drawn regarding forgiveness and service to others and how that affects man’s relationship with God. But maybe what You were actually doing was stating a simple fact: How can you be a part of me when you won’t allow me to be a part of you? Maybe, in this instance, we look too hard for metaphorical meaning in the water, the washing, or the cleansing.
I am strongly attracted to the idea that what we should take from this encounter is a message of the bond between people that cannot exist where airs of pride or superiority exist. The apostles, like us, could have uttered the same words to You. Our service to others allows us to be part of them and they to be part of us; and, if we insist on extracting metaphorical meaning, this service is love. Love makes us part of each other.
I can only imagine what must have gone through Your mind when objections were raised to Your washing their feet: ‘Can these men who are my friends not see that to be friends and love is to give of self?’ As if they could not figure it out, You had to tell them, “Go, and do likewise.” And the part that seems so easily missed here is that it’s not just about doing but also about receiving. To become one with You, or with another, we must not only give of our self but we must be open and welcoming to receiving the selves of others – just as we must be open and welcoming to receiving Your action in our lives. Learning to allow You to do
for us is, somehow, a whole lot harder than doing for You.