The name in Western churches today is Maundy Thursday, derived from a Latin reference to Jesus washing of the disciples feet. Continuing the theme of humility begun yesterday, there could hardly be a more appropriate image on which to focus. The vast differences in human responses to God have been considered, ranging from self-abasement at the feet of God to the greatest hubris whereby the created presumes to destroy the Creator . Yet, Jesus Christ, in God’s infinitely wise ways, loves us before we loved him and humbles himself to us before we humbled ourselves to him. He provides for us an example for all time. When Mary anointed Jesus’ feet at Bethany she gave him infinitely less than was his due. When Jesus washed the feet of the disciples, he lowered himself to a position so diametrically opposed to his actual station that to consider it ought to be laughable to us.
Nevertheless, God’s “folly” has given us a profound lesson in humility. Our humility is not to be the result of a calculated appraisal of our worth relative to others. We do not realize that we are less than God, and be humble towards him, only to decide that we are better than some of our peers and feel justified in our arrogant treatment of them. Jesus has demonstrated that humility is a state of being before God, a commitment to the service of God through the service of His entire creation. It isn’t based on our quantifiable worthlessness but on his unquantifiable worthiness.
Thus, Augustine exhorts:
Pride is the source of all diseases, because pride is the source of all sins…Therefore, that the cause of all diseases might be cured, namely pride, the Son of God came down and was made humble. Why are you proud, o man? God was made humble for you. Perhaps you would be ashamed to imitate a humble man; at least imitate a humble God.*
*Quoted from Joseph M. Hallman’s The Descent of God.