To serve and not to be served (Mark 10:45)

Brad Rozairo, OMI – April is the month of new life and new beginnings. This is very much visible here in San Antonio, Texas. The weather turns warmer, the green grows greener, and the bluebonnets are in full bloom to welcome Easter! These days I am glad to be in San Antonio to experience spring and Easter.

For priests to be on a sabbatical during Holy Week and Easter is a rare occasion. This year, I had the privilege of experiencing the Triduum and Easter outside my mission country Japan. One of the things that struck me most was the ‘foot washing ceremony’ on Maundy Thursday. The main celebrant, having washed the feet of a few people, invited the congregation to do the same. Seeing many going forward to participate in the ceremony without feeling shy was something nice to watch.

I was moved to see a cute little girl washing her dad’s feet. The smile on her face expressed her love for her father. The girl might not have understood the meaning of foot washing, but I hope what she did to her father will remain in her memory.

I was observing a couple washing the feet of each other. They took their time to perform this act of love without rushing, and in the end, the wife hugged her husband with a smile. Some couples do not feel comfortable showing their love for each other in public, whereas this couple expressed it without hesitation and it was a beautiful gesture.

What caught my attention was the presence of the parish priest, who was seated with the people! On Maundy Thursday, for the parish priest to be seated with his flock instead of standing at the altar, is something many might not expect. Anyway, he volunteered to wash the feet of a person. He went forward, bent down, gently took the water jar and washed the feet, and, in return, that person washed the feet of the priest. I admired the humility of the priest, who looked like a simple man of God. In case the person who got his feet washed by the priest was a parishioner, I think the parish priest set a good example to his flock.

The ‘foot washing liturgy’ I witnessed reminded me that we are called to serve one another in whatever way possible. This may sound nice to our ears, but we know how difficult it is when it comes to practice. What I experienced that night at the Holy Rosary Church challenged me and made me reflect on the deeper meaning of love, humility and service. I pray that the words of Jesus – to serve and not to be served – may continue to echo in my ears as I live my priestly vocation every day.


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