Whoever welcomes the One I send welcomes me.
By Fr. Felix (African Times Guest Writer)
John 13:16-20 This is the only gospel reading about the Last Supper
itself in the whole of Paschaltide. The first act of Jesus at the last
supper is, according to John, to wash the disciples’ feet as a
his ministry or service to them. Peter complains at the indignity of
this service, but Jesus insists. This action of Jesus receives greater
emphasis in that – apart from the story of the betrayal – it is all John
narrates about the Supper. Although we read the account of the
washing of the disciples’ feet on Maundy Thursday, this reflection
on it is not included then. All the more apt that it should be
included now, when we and the disciples are being prepared for
carrying on the mission of Jesus, with the lesson that the priesthood
is a matter of service, not of dignity. This applies, as is clear from
Jesus’ statement, to the whole priesthood of the priestly people of
God, not just to those who are ordained to a ministry. In this way all
should serve one another and those beyond.
And then at the end of the reading comes the daunting thought,
‘whoever welcomes you welcomes me’ – daunting not so much
from the gratitude it demands but from the strength of the
authority it implies, for it is not always easy either to accept or to
discern the authority of Christ’s messengers.
The logic of the use of the psalm-verse is not immediately obvious.
The depths of the betrayal by Judas lay in the betrayal of hospitality,
especially in sharing not merely meal and table but the dish itself.
In a subsistence-level society, where every morsel of food has value,
this is deeper still. But the greatest significance of all is the unity of
the Son and the Father in the fulfilment of scripture. As the constant
quotation of scripture throughout the Passion Narrative shows,
Jesus is fulfilling the will of the Father in the perfect unity of