A Model of Sacrifice

One of the great joys of studying and working at the Faculty of Theology is the opportunity to share our faith, whether it’s during our weekly liturgies, class discussions, impromptu chats springing up in the student lounge or at one of our social events.
As part of our collective Lenten journey, we are sharing seasonal reflections written by students and Faculty as a way to include the broader community in the life of the Faculty. Our reflection for Holy Thursday is written by John Solheid, a first-year doctoral student in theological studies. His area of study is patristics, and he is currently designing a thesis that examines Origen’s biblical exegesis through his experience as a reader. Prior to St. Michael’s, Ihe received an MA in Theology (2012) and a ThM (2013) from Saint John’s School of Theology•Seminary in Collegeville, MN.

Exodus 12.1-8, 11-14
Psalm 116.12-13, 15+16bc, 17-18
1 Corinthians 11.23-26
John 13.1-15

Today, we encounter the Gospel narrative of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. But the passage, which is set just prior to the Passion in the Gospel of John, is more than a how-to-manual for foot washing. In this narrative, Jesus said that he provided us with a “model to follow.” But the language used in this narrative is heavily ritualistic. The act of washing feet was a symbol of renunciation. In this act, Jesus renounced his status as “master” and “teacher,” showing that, regardless of status, we are all servants. Jesus’ act of renunciation prefigures his ultimate act of renunciation on the Cross. The ritualized language hearkens back to our baptismal calling, in which we die to our sins and rise in the newness of the Spirit.

But this is never a purely individualistic act. Rather, it always serves the broader community. We are both servants of Christ and servants of one another, regardless of status. In the washing of feet, we are challenged to renounce all those things that inhibit the living out of our baptismal vows, to renounce our will, our concerns for status and reputation, all the sins and material concerns that separate us from our sisters and brothers.

This Easter, may God grant us the grace to follow the model set forth by His Son, who lives and reigns with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.