There’s lots of travel for Paul and his companions as well as John in the first reading this morning (Acts 13:13-25) as they go about preaching the word. I feel for them, having finally arrived home after a long day on airplanes, a short night of sleep and a morning in the car yesterday. I always marvel, however, at the fact that I traveled 3,000 miles in that time while the apostles were probably lucky to count about 20 miles on a good day. As they are scurrying about teaching and preaching, I suspect they were frequently reminded of the example of Jesus as I was in this morning’s gospel account (JN 13:16-20). We are thrown back to Holy (Maundy) Thursday as John writes, 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.”
It’s one thing to talk about something and another to give example of the message. The act of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples (a word that means students) was a striking example of humility, hard to be missed in apostolic times. We might ask ourselves today what we would be willing to do for another – any other – in an act of selfless service, that is, an act where we expect no return and yet are willing to pour ourselves out simply because love impels us. In our busy and often competitive society there is much to be gained by taking opportunities to act on what we say – and truly believe – are the principles of gracious living. When we work at a soup kitchen, do we sit down with the clients to share a meal? Even further, do we look into their eyes for recognition of ourselves and of God? When we step back and hold a door for someone, do we bow internally for the opportunity to serve the presence of God which precedes us? We can each find ways to understand what Jesus is saying to his disciples this morning that will help us internalize the reality that lies deeper than the words.