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Maundy Thursday: A lesson in humility

One of the main features of the Maundy Thursday service in the Church is the washing of the feet. A few faithful who have been privileged to have been a part of this holy practice in the recent past share their experience with NT BUZZ


Catholics all over the world will observe Maundy Thursday today, the beginning of the Pascal Triduum which will end with the glorious celebration of Easter on Sunday.

Maundy Thursday marks the Last Supper of Jesus together with his 12 apostles before he was condemned to death on a cross. It was here that Jesus displayed his complete humility when he washed the feet of his apostles. The day also marks the institution of the Eucharistic celebration which has since been carried out by Catholics in Church every Sunday.

On this day, Catholics attend an evening service in Church to mark this solemn occasion. The service is divided into three parts- the liturgy (ie readings from the bible), washing of the feet done by the priest, and the Holy Eucharist.

In fact every year, each Church chooses 12 faithful from the congregation to have their feet washed. In doing so, the faithful are once again reminded about the value and the need to stay humble. A lesson, says Fr Carlos Luis SAC (Pallotti Home, Chicalim), which is very important especially in today’s times. “The world today has become competitive. Everyone wants to be successful but what after that, what after success? Jesus, according to me, is the perfect example of how one ought to fulfil God’s commandment on earth, fulfil one’s purpose in life,” he says. “Didn’t he have the power to show his authority?” he continues, “He did. But he refrained from portraying himself greater. For him it was important to serve. And he did exactly that. Maundy Thursday explains these events through the institution of the Holy Eucharist and the washing of the feet.”

Usually those chosen to have their feet washed belong to different groups in the church, be it altar boys, youth group, parish council members, etc. And each of these usually  comes away feeling humbled and inspired.

“To have been chosen was itself a great privilege and honour,” says Clyde Lobo from Dona Paula. “During the ritual, I felt humbled that the priest washed my feet as this act instilled in me a sense of humility to all.”

Aldona-based Vivian Desouza on the other hand, has had the opportunity to have been chosen on four occasions, the first time when he was seven-years-old. “Being chosen is not a one-day job. You have the responsibility of then spreading the message that is depicted on that day, ie humility, just as the disciples did,” he says, adding that the day can also teach one a lot of things that can be incorporated in one’s everyday life such as being there for others in times of need.

Hubert Da Costa of Saligao had a slightly different experience in his parish during the washing of the feet. “We were part of the youth group when we were chosen to be part of this. After the priest washed our feet we then had to go into the congregation and wash the feet of our parents,” he recalls. And to be able to do something for the parents was a wonderful experience for him, he states. “The day is more about service, not only to parents but also towards society,” he further says

And while the washing of the feet practice was usually restricted to mostly males, the church in recent times has opened it up for women too.

“I think it’s wonderful for women to be included in the ceremony as all people are called to be his disciples. It’s only right for women to be allowed to take part as disciples as well, leading to gender equality within the church,” says Carolyn Nunes from Panaji, who had the opportunity to have her feet washed two years ago. “It was quite a humbling experience to be chosen for the washing of the feet. I was so touched and felt very special to be one of the disciples. It taught me the value of humility and love,” she says.

“Jesus said, ‘love one another, as I have loved you’.  And I know that the whole message that Jesus gave all of us by washing the feet of his disciples was to be always humble and serve everybody with a kind heart and a smile,” she adds.


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