The Stripping

for Thursday of Holy Week, April 2nd, 2015
Evening Mass of the Last Supper

Liturgical texts here


JESUS was stripped three times during His Passion. The first time was at the Last Supper; the second when they clothed Him in a military cloak; [1]cf. Matt 27:28 and the third time, when they hung Him naked upon the Cross. [2]cf. John 19:23 The difference between the last two and the first is that Jesus “took off his outer garments” Himself.

Do you realize what I have done for you? I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do. (Today’s Gospel)

Take off the “outer garment” of your will, He is saying, and put on the “towel” of My will. And what is His will? That we serve one another. This means far more, though, than simply “chipping in” with the chores. It means investing in the other, giving our whole self. It means stripping ourselves of our complacency, selfishness, and comfort zone so as to go out of ourselves, out of our fear, out of our laziness, out of our reservations and excuses, out of our homes and rectories, and find the sore and tired feet of our brethren, and wash them with an attentive love.

If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet.

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who does not look at you, who listens with only one ear, who checks their cellphone, and changes the subject? What Jesus is teaching us is that we must give, and give our whole selves. Listen to another with your whole heart. And not only listen, but when they are hungry, feed them; when they are naked, clothe them; when they are alone, comfort them; when they are in prison, visit them. Yes, literally! What a stripping of the will this is! But Jesus does not water down His words: as I have done for you, you should also do.

Nor does Jesus only pour water over their feet, but He washes them with His holy hands. We can’t be afraid to “touch” the broken heart of another—not with platitudes, but with the investment of time and self. We can’t be afraid to feed the hungry with our own hands, to embrace a lonely soul, to smile at the stranger, and begin “seeking the happiness of others”. [3]POPE FRANCIS, Evangelii Gaudium, n. 92 Catholic churches have become so clinically sterile—a country club of sorts. The world no longer believes our Gospel because we Sunday-goers have ceased to love as Christ loved us, have ceased to be a “people of the towel and water.” [4]A beautiful expression of Servant of God Catherine de Hueck Doherty How many souls do we personally draw to Christ by the act of walking into a Church every Sunday? Rather…

An evangelizing community gets involved by word and deed in people’s daily lives; it bridges distances, it is willing to abase itself if necessary, and it embraces human life, touching the suffering flesh of Christ in others. Evangelizers thus take on the “smell of the sheep” and the sheep are willing to hear their voice. —POPE FRANCIS, Evangelii Gaudium, n. 24

How few and far between are the souls who actually care today, who care with the Heart of Christ. No wonder we are so lonely. Oh that Jesus would come and wash our feet again with His holy hands.

Well, He wants to beloved—through you and me.

He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end… (Gospel)

…all of us are asked to obey his call to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the “peripheries” in need of the light of the Gospel. —POPE FRANCIS, Evangelii Gaudium, n. 20

Precious in the eyes of the LORD is the death of his faithful ones. I am your servant, the son of your handmaid… (Today’s Psalm)



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1. cf. Matt 27:28
2. cf. John 19:23
3. POPE FRANCIS, Evangelii Gaudium, n. 92
4. A beautiful expression of Servant of God Catherine de Hueck Doherty