Rachel (Caron) Espinoza ’11 M.Div.

In this time marked by the rapid spread of the coronavirus, there is a lot of fear. The 24/7 news cycle gives us constant updates about the ever-rising death toll. The loss of human life is hitting closer and closer to home, and consequently, makes me all the more aware of my own mortality.

What strikes me most from today’s gospel is that on the eve of his own death–a time when most of us would be given over to fear and instincts of self-preservation–Jesus gives us an example of utterly selfless love: he washed his disciples’ feet.

If I am honest with myself, if I knew that I only had a few hours left on this earth, I would probably be more inclined to hide myself away, trying to quell my own anxiety and inner anguish by distracting myself with the comforts of this world or trying to spend as much quality time as I could with those I love most. But instead of seeking his own comfort, Jesus uses these final moments to make an extraordinary gesture of self-emptying love to the very same human beings who would betray and abandon him just a few hours later.

Jesus’ selfless example challenges us to pursue love and service of others rather than narrowly focusing on self-preservation during these challenging days. While we may be holed up inside the four walls of our homes for the next several weeks, our hearts cannot be walled off by fear to the needs of our brothers and sisters.

On this most unusual of Holy Thursdays, this is one way we are being invited to reflect on what it means to be a Eucharistic people, pouring out our lives for others as Jesus did.