Tonight we hear Jesus, after washing the feet of his disciples, say:
“I have given you a model to follow,
so that as I have done for you,
you should also do.” (John 13:15).
Do we follow the model? Do we even come close? I know I sure don’t. Trying to imagine ourselves walking in Jesus’ footsteps can be more than a little intimidating. Look at the great saints. The ones who did it best gave up everything — EVERYTHING — to do it right. What if we can’t give up everything, at least not in a material sense? What if we have families to feed and children to clothe? Can we still follow the model Jesus gave us? Only if we are willing to give up a different kind of everything, the stuff of the ego that we cling to, the false self that we hide behind. We have to shed our masks and don humility if we want to follow the model, but that can be a very hard thing to do.
Here, in a favorite passage from James Martin’s Becoming Who You Are, is as good a place as any to start:
“The beginning of sanctity is loving yourself as a creation of God. And that means all of yourself, even those parts that you wish weren’t there, the parts that you wish God hadn’t made, the parts that you lament. God loves us like a parent loves a child — often more for the parts of the child that are weaker or where the child struggles or falters. More often than not, those very weaknesses are the most important paths to holiness, because they remind you of your reliance on God.”