Calloused and Muddy from the Road

A hand cupping a person's foot in the process of footwashing during a Maundy Thursday Mass.

Thousands of years ago
When friends gathered for a meal,
One man took a basin and a towel
And washed his friends’ feet.

But among his friends was a traitor.
Jesus knew but didn’t say.

A question remains without an answer:
How did Jesus wash his enemy’s feet
In the same way as the others?
How did he keep himself
From pinching his enemy’s toes?
And after it all, Jesus said,
“This is my greatest commandment,
My new covenant,
That you love one another.”

He said this right after
He washed the feet of the man
Whose betrayal would exact
An excruciating death,
Jesus knew in his body and heart
That this covenant
Was a hard one to keep.
Judas’ feet had been rough
With callouses
And muddy from the road.

Yet he did not hesitate
When he got to Judas.
He just went ahead
And washed his feet.
Did Judas’ feet teach him
The lesson that led to this
New covenant of love?
What if we opened our hearts
To our enemies?

This is hard to contemplate.
But on this day, let us imagine
Washing the feet of someone
Who has wronged us.
Their feet, too, are calloused
And muddy from the road.
This is hard
Even to imagine.
Let us try.