Washing Feet Upsets the Whole Social Order


Beatrice Bruteau writes in The Easter Mysteries that we like to keep the roles straight, something Jesus didn’t do when he washed the feet of his horrified apostles. The Lord and Master was acting out of character. Aghast at the improper role undertaken by Jesus, Peter may have said (in Bruteau’s words), “You’ll upset the whole social order by this kind of behavior. We can’t have this. If you start acting like a servant, what are the rest of us supposed to do?  If I let you wash me, why I might even be expected to wash my wife’s feet! People won’t know their place anymore, what their station in life is.” Of course, we know Jesus’ answer: “Go along with this, or don’t be my disciple.” Two thousand years after that famous night when the activity of a servant became inextricably tied to Eucharist and fifty years after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, we still cling to our roles, our prestige, our elitism. We really should know our place and keep everyone else in their places—the least ones of whom the Kingdom of Heaven is comprised.

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