Have you ever been part of a foot-washing ceremony? When I had this blessing, I experienced a great deal of humble love on both sides of the basin. And it is another ceremony where we experience the gift of touch. Jesus with skin on.
In praying about writing this, my many thoughts were distilled into one word: welcome.
The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke record Jesus as discussing the concept of welcoming. In the very rich portrayal in Gospel of John today, I wish to consider the tradition of welcoming by foot-washing.
Thinking about “welcome” started a few weeks ago. I was reading an interview with a cardinal about curia reform and increasing the role of the laity, especially women. The prelate encouraged the role of women, commenting that women bring the gift of hospitality. I began to increase my efforts to be more actively welcoming in every day-to-day setting: at church, in community gatherings, to those old and young visiting my home. I found this in Romans 15:7–”Welcome one another then, as Christ welcomed you, for the glory of God.”
Finally, this has stuck with me, too: I have noticed that an article titled, “New Year Resolutions”, attributed to Pope Francis, has been showing up in my inbox. I first saw it reprinted in a Catholic Worker newsletter I receive. The following “resolution” is taken from Pope Francis’ book “On Heaven and Earth”. It was given the title, “Meet the poor in the flesh”.
His comments: “It is not enough to mediate this commitment through institutions, which obviously help because they have a multiplying effect, but that is not enough. They do not excuse us from establishing personal contact with the needy. The sick must be cared for, even when we find them repulsive and repugnant. Those in prison must be visited.”
I am working on living my Charism of welcoming.
Kathleen McKeown is a mother and grandmother who lives in Augusta, Georgia.