21 April 2011 - Holy Thursday

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Holy Thursday
21 April 2011

I remember reading a story on one occasion about the family members who came together some time after the death of their Mother to make some decisions about what to do with the Mother’s belongings. One of the daughters said that she would be very keen to have her mother’s apron. It apparently was one of those longer aprons, with the long strings and a large pocket as well.

There are, as we know, many kinds of aprons, some which are brought out only on special occasions. For those who like to take responsibility for cooking the meat on the barbeque, there is often a special apron to be worn on the occasion.

On the occasion when we recall this evening, the Washing of the Feet, we are told that Jesus donned a makeshift apron, when he wrapped a towel around his waist before he washed the feet of his disciples. Aprons may serve a very clear purpose in many instances – to keep the clothes the cook is wearing as clean as possible. But they also have a symbolic meaning as well.

Aprons remind us that serving others is not always a neat operation. At times it can become quite messy. They give a message of a readiness on the part of the wearer, to be of service to others – every time an apron is worn, other people are somehow involved in the outcome of whatever is the task for the moment.

When Jesus put on the makeshift apron,  he clearly showed that he wished to be of service to others, to his disciples in this particular instance. Furthermore, as we heard in the Gospel reading, he wanted to give an example that those followers of his would imitate, and it is something very moving to think that over 2000 years later, we are still following his example here this evening, and of course the gesture will be repeated many thousands of times over the whole world over the next 24 hours.

It is not surprising in a way that Peter found this gesture of Jesus to be rather confronting and inappropriate. Peter believed in a proper order of things which put Jesus at the top of the pyramid. This arrangement provided Peter with a sense of security and he did not want it to be disturbed.

 It is so easy to understand Peter’s attitude – it is more difficult to comprehend the attitude and response of Jesus. What Jesus is saying is that the gesture of washing feet is an essential part of his message, not something that we are free to do now and again or on special occasions.

As we commemorate the occasion when Jesus gave us the wonderful gift of his own Body and Blood in the Eucharist,  it is a precious moment for us to express our thanks for that wonderful gift, and for the example he has given to us as well.

Also we give thanks for those who have served us throughout our lives, who have worn an apron when assisting and caring for us. In addition, we give thanks to those who give us the opportunity to put on our own apron, and to serve them in one of many possible ways. We might care to reflect during the washing of the feet, on some of the occasions in our lives when an apron was very much in evidence.