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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Thursday of the Fourth Week of Easter
1st Reading (Acts 13:13-25): From Paphos, Paul and his companions set sail and arrived at Perga in Pamphylia. But John left them and returned to Jerusalem. They continued on from Perga and reached Antioch in Pisidia. On the sabbath they entered into the synagogue and took their seats. After the reading of the law and the prophets, the synagogue officials sent word to them, «My brothers, if one of you has a word of exhortation for the people, please speak».

So Paul got up, motioned with his hand, and said: «Fellow children of Israel and you others who are God-fearing, listen. The God of this people Israel chose our ancestors and exalted the people during their sojourn in the land of Egypt. With uplifted arm he led them out, and for about forty years he put up with them in the desert. When he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance at the end of about four hundred and fifty years. After these things he provided judges up to Samuel the prophet. Then they asked for a king. God gave them Saul, son of Kish, a man from the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. Then he removed him and raised up David as their king; of him he testified, I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will carry out my every wish. From this man's descendants God, according to his promise, has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus. John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel; and as John was completing his course, he would say, «What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. Behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet».
Responsorial Psalm: 88
R/. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
The favors of the Lord I will sing forever; through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness. For you have said, «My kindness is established forever»; in heaven you have confirmed your faithfulness.

«I have found David, my servant; with my holy oil I have anointed him, that my hand may be always with him, and that my arm may make him strong».

«My faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him, and through my name shall his horn be exalted. He shall say of me, ‘You are my father, my God, the Rock, my savior’».
Versicle before the Gospel (Rev 1:5): Alleluia. Jesus Christ, you are the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, you have loved us and freed us from our sins by your Blood. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Jn 13:16-20): When Jesus had washed the disciples’ feet, he said to them: “Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it. I am not speaking of all of you. I know those whom I have chosen. But so that the Scripture might be fulfilled, the one who ate my food has raised his heel against me. From now on I am telling you before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe that I AM. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

“When Jesus had washed the disciples’ feet...”

Fr. David COMPTE i Verdaguer (Manlleu, Barcelona, Spain)

Today, as with those movies that at the beginning take us back in time, our liturgy remembers a passage that belongs to the Holy Thursday: Jesus washes the feet of His disciples. Thus, this gesture —read from the Easter perspective— recovers a perennial validity.

Let us consider only three ideas: In the first place, the centrality of the person. In our society, it seems that what one does is the measure of a person's worth. Within this dynamic it is easy for people to be considered as tools; we use each other extremely easily. Today, the Gospel urges us to transform this dynamic into service dynamics: the other party will never be just a tool. It would rather be a matter of living a spirituality of communion, where the other person —quoting Saint John Paul II— becomes “someone who belongs to me” and is a “gift to me”, whom we have “to give space” to. In our language we could translate it as “to care about other people's feelings”. Do we care about other people's feelings? Do we listen to them when they speak to us?

In our world of images and communications, this is not a message to transmit, but a job to be done, to live up to every day: “If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it.” (Jn 13:17). Maybe, this is why the Master does not limit Himself to an explanation: He imprints into His disciples' memories His call for service, passing it immediately on to the Church's memory; a memory that we are called to act upon, time and again: in the lives of so many families, of so many people.

Finally, a warning note: “The one who ate my food has raised his heel against me.” (Jn 13:18). In the Eucharist, Jesus resurrected becomes our servant, He washes our feet. But the physical presence is not enough. We have to learn in the Eucharist and have the strength necessary so it becomes a reality that “having received the gift of love, we die to sin and we live for God” (Saint Fulgentius of Ruspe).

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • “For true friendship cannot be, unless in such as Thou cementest together by Love” (Saint Augustine)

  • “An evangelizing community gets involved by word and deed in people’s daily lives, touching the suffering flesh of Christ in others. Evangelizers thus take on the ‘smell of the sheep’” (Francis)

  • “In all of his life Jesus presents himself as our model. He is "the perfect man", who invites us to become his disciples and follow him. In humbling himself, he has given us an example to imitate, through his prayer he draws us to pray, and by his poverty he calls us to accept freely the privation and persecutions that may come our way” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nº 520)