It is funny how the ceremony of foot washing seems to be kind of embarrassing to us. It seems so intimate and personal. We are hesitant to bare our feet. And yet in our current culture people bare their souls on television and their torsos on the stage and on the beach.
A number of years ago I worked closely with the manager of one of the Union Trust branches. She literally kept me solvent while I was in business. She taught me to hoard my cash and to work the interest rates, etc. One day she told me that she would be away for six weeks. “How so?” “I asked. I am going to have my feet operated on,” she replied. She then kicked off her shoes and showed me her feet. They were so misshapen that I marveled that she could walk. Six weeks later she was back at her desk. “How are the feet?” I asked. She kicked off her shoes and showed me the most perfectly formed feet you could think of. “Now, I can really walk,” she exclaimed.
You see, when your feet are in good shape, you can walk.
Years later I started going to a podiatrist. Every ten weeks I have a whirlpool bath and the nails clipped. I leave with “happy feet.”
We think of Andronocles and the lion, where the lad removes the thorn from the lion’s paw. For years I had to tend to my Black Lab’s feet. Over the years I tended to my children’s feet and even to my wife’s.
Several times during Lent we have read passages in which Jesus’ feet are washed by one or more women. The act of foot washing was at the time seen as an act of hospitality and civility. But there is more to it than that. In the act of foot washing the host becomes the servant. There is a certain humility (even if it is done by a servant) that is intended. When Jesus’ feet are washed by the women, it is an act of devotion and a foreshadowing of His kingship and His death.
When at the Passover meal Jesus washes the feet of His disciples, He is taking upon Himself the role of servant hood. The Lord becomes the servant. He admonishes His disciples to emulate His behavior. Thus their role is to be one of servant hood and humility. Their souls are to be tended to by such humility and service to one another and to Christ.
You see, when your feet are in good shape, you can walk. Or to put it differently, when your soul has humility and is in good shape, you truly live.
We tend to our souls through acts of genuine humility and devotion. They prepare our souls to walk through the events of Good Friday and to approach the empty tomb, and later, while walking, to meet the risen Lord.
Through the practice of humility, and through emulating Christ’s washing of His disciples’ feet, you and I prepare to have, perhaps, on the Day of Resurrection not “happy feet,” but “happy souls.” - Amen-