Reading a post this morning on Catholic Exchange by Caitlin Marchand entitled A Holy Thursday Reflection for Mothers I was struck with the awareness of how of Holy Thursday is a beautiful reminder of grace for mothers and women married, single, widowed or no matter what ones's state in life may be. Holy Thursday commemorates the sacrificial act of the Lord's love for us as he institutes the sacrament of Holy Eucharist. But Holy Thursday is more than the face value that we sometimes give it. Tonight marks the birth of active Christianity beyond Jesus. Tonight is the night Jesus through humbling himself lower than a slave demonstrates how we must live our lives; especially as mothers. As Fr. Robert Baron writes:
We catch the novelty and shock of it in Peter's response: "Master, are you going to wash my feet?" This is just too much for him; it is such a violation of the world that he had come to accept, a world in which masters were masters, slaves were slaves, where the dignified and important were waited upon while the lowly did the serving. In that world there was a clear demarcation between up and down, worthy and unworthy, clean and unclean.
Jesus is putting his followers through a sort of initiation rite. Unless they pass this test, unless they begin to see the world in a new way, they will not get into the Kingdom. And this is why Jesus says to Peter, "Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me."
In the vision of the old world, one's life comes to its high point at a moment of honor, praise, glory, or recognition, at a moment when one's distinction and superiority over others is most evident. The old world is predicated on the great divisions between master and slave, superior and subordinate, rich and poor, powerful and powerless, included and excluded. Most of our energy goes into maintaining these distinctions, or trying to get from one side to the other, or keeping certain people on the far side of the divide.
But in the vision of the Kingdom of God, the climactic moment comes when one is the lowliest servant of the other: yes, even despised, reviled, spat upon, and handed over to death. It is only when we have passed through this startling initiation that we are ready for the full manifestation of the Kingdom.
"You call me 'teacher' and 'master' and rightly so," Jesus says, "for indeed I am. If I therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet."
Through this percieved demeaning act Jesus is elevating us all. He is calling us beyond ourselves for others. In that it makes me think of how this is like motherhood. In Marchand's piece she outlines how our world seeks to pull the meaning of motherhood to the extremes, whether that is it is degraded to the point that is a worthless waste or that it something glamourous meant for those who are the ultimate crafters, cooks and the ultimate soccer-moms. When in reality it is neither as Marchand points out...motherhood is about love. Motherhood is not so much about ourselves as it is about service to and for others. It is through the selfless living of the call of women and mothers that we share the love Christ shared with us on Holy Thursday. It is in the hard, clumsy, desolate, lonely, thankless moments that we are called to live out God's will. When we are truly able to accept this call willingly (by no means and I trying to suggest this is in any way easy) we are sharing the best of ourselves and being what God called us to be; Mothers; Christian mothers. Like Mary we are called to accept this FIAT...to say yes...and be at peace with having our works be hidden.
Just as we'd like to run from the cross, and we earnestly pray as the Lord did on this night, to let the cup pass there is really no other way. Because in serving others through and with our cross we not only grow ourselves but we are teaching others that there is merit, there is beauty and grace in the thankless, ugly, degrading and dirty jobs we as mothers can face, there is beauty and a resurrection in the cross. No we may never have the paparazzi following us (nor would we really want to ) wanting to know how we accomplished our morning look after a long night with a sick child, or have an article written about us on how we managed to get all the children fed, clothed and to bed and have the house still standing and the kids still smiling when our husbands are out of town and we have to go it alone. No but someday when we see our children speaking up for a child who is picked on, asks if we can help an elderly neighbor, proudly and unabashed is a voice for life or perhaps they just smiles and say "I love you Momma"... we will know our motherhood has meant something. We will know that we too have accepted Jesus' call to wash the feet of another and with faith hope that our children and all we've encountered will wash another's feet.
Tonight when I'm at Holy Thursday Mass with my family I will know I have been given a new grace of understanding. That my time in this Lenten desert has been blessed. The grace and gift of tonights commemoration is a call for me as a mother and wife, women, sister and friend to Iive-out the Lord's Holy Thursday act of washing anothers feet everyday not just on Holy Thursday. Because in living out this humble service in the unrecognized moments of my life I am doing my part in the resurrection of a more loving Christ centered family and world...at least I will do my part and then turn it over to Jesus through his mother, our mother Mary. Like all things it is through the Mother that we are called to learn, love and live.
May this Holy Thursday be a beautiful blessing to you and your Motherhood. May you feel Jesus' unbound love for you tonight and through this Easter Triduum. May Easter morning find you at peace and affirmed that you are worthy and dearly loved from above.
Happiest Easter Blessings to you!