“In the poor man who knocks at my door, in my ailing mother, in the young man who seeks my advice, the Lord Himself is present: therefore let us wash His feet.”
I love getting my fiancé flowers. I probably don’t love it as much as she does, but there is something about it I really like. There is a process: picking out just the right flowers. Trying to find the best price, and the best quality and colors. And then…then… I get to see her face when she opens the door and see’s me, bouquet in hand. Her whole face glows and her eyes get really big and she simply says: “Flowers!” So much joy.
The interesting thing, though, is that she isn’t loved by the flowers- that is not why they are so special and significant to her. It is because she is loved through the flowers: by me. And yet, in some weird, romantic way, the flowers are able to be a sign, a symbol, a participant in our love.
I think when we love people, it is not so much that they are being loved by us, but that they are being loved through us: by God Himself.
Saint Augustine in his autobiography, "Praying to the Lord," speaks of how when he was just a babe nursing at his mothers breast, it wasn’t his mother who was feeding him, but The Lord – the giver of all Life – feeding him through his mother. Christ Himself was creating the milk inside of her body, feeding him in love through her as His vessel.
God delights in using secondary causes. God delights in using simple, plain things and people to speak of His love and His grace and His power to a world that is so hard of hearing. I think this is why, so often, in the scriptures we see the command “Love one another” (John 15:12). God is constantly speaking: constantly singing through the hummingbird; dancing in the movement of the rivers; calling all to repentance through the wild barking of dogs; and speaking of His comfort and mercy through the sweet sound of falling rain- washing away our sins and flushing them down the deep forgetfulness of the cross. He greets us every morning in people: in the kiss of a loved one; in the glance of friend; in the kind of word of a stranger.
Yet so many of us go through our day so incredibly unaware and uninterested in the divine whispers present in the ordinary and earthy vessels of grace. And so many of us are so incredibly unaware and uninterested in participating in this work of Christ: of comforting the afflicted, allowing our presence to be balm as we enter into their wounds with them in the name of Jesus. Of caring for the lonely and the disadvantaged- of speaking up for those who have been systematically silenced and told “you are not welcome.” Of forgiving our enemies, as Christ forgave us, His enemies. Of being an encouragement and source of life for those who are stuck in the shadow of death and dying.
Jesus delights in washing the feet of the world through the hands of His saints.
May we live in His presence, for the life of the world.