Washing the Feet of Jesus

Writer's Note: I know I fell off the bandwagon in failing to update, but I had a trying couple of weeks. I decided to just post this one already. I've had it sitting on my computer for several weeks and have been unable to really tie up the loose ends. My apologies. I'll be working on better content soon. Here's to starting anew for 2020!

People often ask me why I want to help criminal defendants. It’s really easy for me to get up on my high horse and remind them of what Jesus said: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” Matt 9:12. The truth is, I wish I could love them more. I can feel where my capacity for love reaches its limit. Sometimes I don’t have answers for them. I can’t snap my fingers and give them what they desperately want: to see their children, to see their loved ones, to be able to live a truly free life.

During Advent, I prayed before the Blessed Sacrament. I had been feeling especially filled with a spirit of joyful anticipation, for the coming of the infant Jesus on Christmas yes, but for His second coming as well. I prayed, boldly asking God when He would return.

“Will it be soon?” I asked.

“No, not soon,” I felt Him say, “Now.”

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a little excited, but we all know God’s more cryptic than that. He continued, saying “I am here. I am in the Eucharist. I am in the people you meet. Treat them as you would treat me.”

Shortly after hearing this in my mind, I went to confession where the priest confirmed what I received in prayer. Without my prompting him to speak about the second coming, the priest said, “We don’t know when the second coming will be. We just always have to be ready.”

Treating others as Christ is nothing new to us as Christians.

In fact, Jesus tells us, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” Matt 25:40. I always knew this to be the case, but it’s been awhile (longer than I wish to admit) since I really took it to heart, since I looked at a person and thought, like Mother Teresa would, that there is “Jesus in disguise.” So, on the train ride home, I remembered. I put what Jesus said into practice. I looked around the train and chose to recognize Jesus in every person. He was in the well-dressed man reading his book, He was in the young woman looking down at her phone, He was in the elderly, the grumpy, the tired. He was all around me, but I hadn’t really looked before. He was there, so I loved Him in them. And I loved them because He loved them.

Tears welled up in my eyes as I became overwhelmed with love for all of them. Thomas Merton described a similar experience: “I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs.” And like St. Therese of Lisieaux who said, “nothing is small in the eyes of God. Do all that you do with love,” I can love a random passerby without even having to meet him. He exists, he crossed my path, so I love Him. It’s that simple. And you know what happened: it made me happy. It put me in a good mood. I had been surrounded by God in all of these people, but refused to acknowledge it. Once I did, it took me over. Now I’m no saint, so this feeling faded after some time, but I believe that making the choice to love every single person, to love Christ in them, will eventually lead to seeing Christ in them.

St. Paul asks his readers: “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” 1 Cor. 3:16. Don’t you know how precious you are? Don’t you know how valuable the homeless man on the street is? Don’t you know that as much as you love your own child, God loves the criminal?

I heard this quote recently, though I don’t know who said it: “Wash a person’s feet until you know why they walk the way they do.” I’ve been washing the criminal’s feet for awhile now, and I’m still learning why they walk the way they do. What I can tell you is that their stories remind me of a third world country.

Judgment is not the act of a Christian, no matter who is its object. Who are we to condemn when God spares us from His own condemnation? We haven’t the right.

Instead, let us see Christ in each person. In doing so, even the most unlikely people will reveal their most beautiful qualities. The light of Christ will emanate from them. What was once dim, will become bright.

To God be the Glory!


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