“… as I have done for you, you also should do.” Jn. 13:15
Seemingly, from the very beginning of history, human beings have known that something has to die for something bigger to be born.
In ancient times, this understanding initially took the form of communal sacrifices that became ritualized. It was people’s way of acknowledging their sinfulness as a community and placating the wrath of their particular gods.
Fortunately, the human psyche eventually evolved in its understanding of how best to accomplish this. In the beginning, there was the ritual killing of humans, as portrayed in the story of Abraham and Isaac, and the belief that it was necessary for him to kill his first born son.
Then the Jewish people began the tradition so powerfully depicted in the first reading we heard today from the book of Exodus, the tradition of slaughtering a small year-old lamb. Its blood was then to be sprinkled on the door posts of their homes to remind them of their escape from Egypt and their continual protection by God.
In tonight’s dramatic gospel story of the Last Supper, the last stage in this slowly evolving history of identifying what really needs to die in order for something bigger to be born is finally revealed. The secret is exposed.
It turns out that, all along, through all the centuries that went before, and through all the volumes of blood that was shed, the answer lay not in anything outside of us, but in something way down deep within our individual hearts.
What needs to die, Jesus shows us, is not other human beings, or animals, or any other “thing” that we treasure. What needs to die is our own selves, our own false self, our egos.
“Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Master’ …. If I therefore … have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet.”
Jesus represents a revolution in human history.
He shows with utter clarity what it takes to bring about a true transformation within us: servanthood, getting on our knees and washing the feet of the “less than.”
It is the death of our egos, the death of our demands for dominating others, the death of our having to be the best, the death of our desire for always wanting more power, more attention, more acclaim, more, more, more.
“Do you realize what I have done for you?”
What Jesus has done for us is to model what is the secret to true happiness and real peace and genuine transformation.
“I have given you a model to follow … as I have done for you, you should also do.”
Ted Wolgamot, Psy.D.