"If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it"

The Gospel reading today takes us back to Holy Thursday and the mandatum, the washing of the feet. Jesus' insistence not only on washing the Apostles' feet, but commanding them to do likewise is more than a call to service...it is a call to see God himself in a different way.

As I wrote on on Holy Thursday:

We believe that Jesus is the second person of the Blessed Trinity: God himself. Though the apostles probably wouldn't have phrased it that way in their moment of history, they certainly knew that Jesus was no mere man. He had performed many signs, culminating in John's Gospel with the raising of Lazarus. He had, through his I AM statements, clearly claimed to be God and, with the possible exception of Judas, the apostles believed it.

Here was God with a washcloth, cleaning their feet.

It doesn't just mean that we need to go out and help others. It means that we were all completely, 100% wrong the whole time about what power and glory really are. It is an indication that the world's values are 180 degrees out of phase with God's values.

The sad part: after 2000 years of Christianity, it hasn't changed.

Most people still dream of winning the lottery. They keep up with the Kardashians and watch shows about real-estate they will never afford. They dreams great dreams about a day when they will 'make it big'.

It's all a lie. A horrible, sad lie.

This is what the Lord is really trying to tell us with the mandatum. He wants us to give up the lie and embrace the truth in all its gritty reality: There is no power or glory outside of love--everything else is empty.

“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." (John  13:16-17)

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