In the Gospel of John, which we reflect on this evening, the institution of the Eucharist is not explicitly mentioned at all. Instead, a special focus is given to Jesus' act of washing the feet of His disciples. This is because the washing of the feet and the Eucharist are one and the same story. They tell us the deep yet beautiful message: that we were made for each other. The disciples were confused on why Jesus would do something that was done only by the lowliest servants. He was God, the master and the teacher. Why would He choose to wash their feet which were filled with stench and filth? In response, Jesus told them "I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do (John 13:15)."
Jesus, through His actions, has reiterated what He has always been teaching them from the beginning -- to love each other unconditionally. Jesus'washing of the feet, no matter how dirty and smelly they were, tells us that He is ready to love and accept us wholly for who we are -- even our ugliest and darkest parts. In a set of broken and new plates, if we were the broken plates, Jesus would still choose us as though we were new. He loves us even if we are unlovable. That is how much He loves us; and we are called to love each other in the same way.
We are called to unconditional love and selfless sacrifice because He loved us and sacrificed for us first. In the Eucharist, the holy sacrifice at the Cross happens all over again. He lays down His life as bread and wine all over and over again. He loves us so much that He is willing to contain Himself in a tiny host just to be fully and truly present with us. The Seraphic Father, St. Francis of Assisi, once said "What wonderful majesty! What stupendous condescension! O sublime humility! That the Lord of the whole universe, God and the Son of God, should humble Himself like this under the form of a little bread, for our salvation."
Every time the priest, in the person of Christ, says every Mass "Do this in memory of me" as he breaks the bread and wine, we are reminded of His timeless commandment to us: to love one another as He has have loved us (John 13:34).
Written by Edward Chico
Art by Jule Ervin De Guzman