I served in a few parishes where my wife, daughter, and I shared the experience of washing and being washed. Other parishioners, too, obviously. Sometimes a few hundred at as many as twenty stations all around the church. Some people take seriously the mandate, not only liturgically but practically (which, admittedly, is the very best way to take it):
(Jesus) said to them,
“Do you realize what I have done for you?
You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’
and rightly so, for indeed I am.
If I, therefore, the master and teacher,
have washed your feet,
you ought to wash one another’s feet.
I have given you a model to follow,
so that as I have done for you,
you should also do.” (John 13:12b-15)
Some Christians demur on various mandates from Jesus. The Eucharist. The Great Commission. This one. It’s only symbolic, as I hear the objection. Some Christians avoid “Do this in memory of me,” or “Go and preach,” or “You ought to wash one another’s feet.”
Catholics might especially ponder their resistance to foot-washing. It rather sinks our insistence on the Eucharist, and paints us with a little stripe of hypocrisy that we pick and choose which mandates of the Lord we have enshrined and which we have not.
This year, we are under another mandate. This from our archbishop. No washing. No transfer procession. Just Mass.
One colleague of mine mentioned her feeling of “survivor’s guilt” about receiving the Eucharist at the parish’s recorded/streaming Masses. We church musicians may be in a privileged position, serving as a musician for streaming or recorded liturgies. My boss related another pastoral associate declining to receive out of solidarity with his parishioners who, obviously, could not receive. Others who said they continued to do so because they felt they needed the strength to continue to serve. And it is likely true: solidarity and strength are each important. Neither is a wrong response.
It is a very strange Triduum into which we are about to immerse ourselves.