A Challenge to Charity

The gospel reading for Thursday of the fourth week of Easter is John 13:16-20. Jesus talks about how one who shared table with him had “raised his heel against him.” It brought me to a realization I never had before: when Jesus washed his disciples feet at the Last Supper, Judas was one who had his feet washed. It’s interesting to speculate what might’ve been going through Judas’ mind when this happened, but remembering Jesus knew what was going to happen, it’s amazing he did this even though he knew Judas was a lost cause. I imagine most of us would’ve figured out a way to get Judas out of the room before this prophetic action if we been in Jesus’ place. But the sequence of events was: Jesus washed their feet, they shared the meal (Eucharist), and then Judas left.

I struggle with charity: I have difficulty embracing lost causes. It’s rather common to filter our charity these days, trying to evaluate whether our gift will improve the situation before we give it. However as Mother Teresa once said: “We are not called to be successful, we are called to be faithful.” In this act Jesus is showing us that we don’t give charity for the effect it may have, we are charitable because it is part of our identity. Jesus washed feet because that’s who he was, and in some ways whose feet he washed was irrelevant.

The temptation today is to qualify our charity. The temptation is to be charitable to those we feel deserve it. In many ways this is not true charity. Charity is a gift and the most important thing is to give it as an act of Faith. This is a challenge Pope Francis gives us in Evangelii Gaudium.

Perhaps the most important thing is to realize our Faith will never be perfect, and even though we may not be able to imitate Jesus completely, we must seek to recalibrate our hearts to this standard of Charity. At the very least, we should embrace the struggle as we embrace the discipline of imitating Christ in all we do.

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One comment

  1. Monica Chapman · · Reply

    I just recently heard someone suggest that the “washing of the feet” should have become a sacrament also … not just the Body and Blood … because if the Eucharist doesn’t lead of to “washing feet” … what’s the point!!! Wisdom filled!

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