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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Holy Thursday

Today I received an e-mail from someone thanking me for being a priest. I'm not always sure how to respond to such gratitude, for how often do we thank others for answering God's call to their particular vocation? I generally don't see my choice as any more heroic than that, for example, of the parent who serves God by devoting his or her life to children and family. Nevertheless, since I know that a priest can be taken for granted by his church or congregation just as easily as a parent might be by his or her children, it is nice to receive thanks now and then. So, perhaps in humility it's better not to overthink such things.

And, indeed, it is Holy Thursday, a day when priests are invited to give thanks for the privilege of serving the people of God as we do. Lest we become too impressed with ourselves it's also the day on which, according to Jesus' injunction, we wash others' feet. Especially on my first Maundy Thursday as a priest, it reminds me of an important moment in the realization of my own vocation which I wrote of some years ago:

Did I do what? I stopped and looked at her ugly, twisted old woman's feet and I thought no, absolutely not! But I hardly had time to think about what I was doing when I saw my hands reaching for those feet because I realized something else. If my answer was not yes, then it was time for me to leave all this and go home. Because if I couldn't do this, then I couldn't possibly be a Jesuit, I couldn't possibly be a priest. Because what I was trying to be, what I had to be, was someone who does rub feet. I would be a fraud if Jesus couldn't say to me on that final day, "I was dying and you rubbed my feet."

You can read the complete article here.