It’s good to think of others – Br. Jack Crowley 

Br. Jack Crowley headshot

Br. Jack Crowley

Maundy Thursday 

John 13:1-17, 31b-35 

Well good evening everyone, it’s so good to see you all. Tonight we start our celebration of a glorious long weekend.  

I’ll start this long weekend by asking a simple question. Who’s ready to get their feet washed? Or should I ask, who got their feet ready to be washed? 

If you are anything like me, at some point every year on Maundy Thursday, I become self-conscious of my feet. I took a good hard look at my toenails. I ask myself questions like what if my feet smell tonight? Do my feet look weird? What does a normal foot even look like? I know these questions sound ridiculous coming from a man who wears sandals year-round, but it’s what I do.   

There’s just something about foot washing that’s provoking. It causes a reaction in us. Knowing our bare feet are not only going to be exposed but also handled by someone else makes us feel vulnerable. These moments of vulnerability can be powerful.  

So when Jesus got up from that table at the Last Supper and got down on his knees to wash feet, what a powerful moment that must have been. Every year on Maundy Thursday, I ask myself why, why did Jesus do it? Why did he wash feet at his own Last Supper? 

Every year I come back to the same answer. Jesus knew what he was doing. He knew this was it. This was the Last Supper. This was going to be one of his last chances to teach us something.  

When we know we’re going to be doing something for the last time, we really do it. Running the last mile of a race, finishing the last page of a book, or saying our final goodbyes to a loved one, knowing the mortality of our moments makes them intense. We forego whatever normal restraints we place upon ourselves and let it all out.  

I would have loved to have been there that night. That upper room with Jesus and his twelve disciples. I always try to imagine that one moment when the reality set in for the disciples that Jesus was about to wash their feet. 

It’s hard for us to understand what a scandalous act Jesus’ foot washing was. For Jesus, the Master, the Son of God, to be washing feet at his Last Supper, it would have been shocking for the Disciples. Jesus was doing the job a servant should have been doing.  

Somehow, Jesus was able to transform this dirty, mundane task into an act of service and humility. In doing so, he showed us a way to love and to be loved. Keep in mind he did this knowing he would soon be betrayed to a painful death.  

It’s always tempting to obsess over ourselves, especially in times of stress or vulnerability. One of the many things I love about Jesus at the Last Supper was that his focus was on the people around him. His focus was on how to get them to love one another. Jesus was about to be tortured to death, and he was still thinking of others.  

Jesus shows us that to be constantly thinking of others, to be constantly thinking of what you can do to improve the lives of those around you, is fundamentally a good strategy for life. This does not mean you should be a door mat for those around you. This means it’s a good idea to constantly be engaging with those around you.  

To do the opposite, to think about oneself all the time, is exhausting. A self-centered life is boring. Selfishness is not sustainable.  

The Last Supper was not a table for one. No. There were thirteen very different people sitting down together that night. Their lives were about to be fundamentally changed forever.  

We too sit here tonight as all sorts of different people. We all have our stories. We’ve all come from something, are going through something, and are getting ready for something. What we all have in common is this unrelenting pursuit of God. We have all pursued God this far and we want to keep it going.  

We pursue a God who loves us and clearly wants us to love one another. The life of Jesus shows us that loving one another can be intimate and real. We start by looking outward at one another and offering ourselves, our whole selves, to this God given and God sustained community of all living things. 

We do not have to drown in ourselves. We do not have to be killed by our fears. We are more than our anxieties. We can get over the nasty parts of ourselves and hustle towards God and connect with those around us.  

Now we know that the practice of making genuine human connections is a lifelong practice. It’s a practice rooted in the pursuit of God and the greater good. It’s a practice honed by service and refined by prayer.  

In Holy Week, we are constantly reminded of the impact we have on other people. We can crucify other people, or we can wash their feet. We can stab a crown of thorns on someone’s head, or we can wash it with oil. We can mock and scourge, or we can listen.  

Every day of our lives we face the choice of coming closer together or drifting farther apart. The forces of evil out there are great, but so are the forces of love. What we choose to bind ourselves together with will influence not only the rest of our lives, but the lives of everyone who comes after us.  

Maundy Thursday is a reminder that what we do here matters. Our actions have consequences. This is all very real.  

One of my favorite parts of the whole liturgical year will happen in a few moments. You will see people you know, people you kind of know, and people you don’t know line up. You will see shoes and socks come off, and pant legs rolled up. You will see bare feet emerge. Things will get a little jolted.  

This is life. This clumsy but grace filled shuffle of ours towards God. This is what we get to work with. We are who we get to live with. Somewhere in the middle of it all is God.  

Support SSJE

Please support the Brothers work.
The brothers of SSJE rely on the inspired kindness of friends to sustain our life and our work. We are grateful for the prayers and support provided to us.

Click here to Donate


  1. Tudy Hill on April 18, 2024 at 17:15

    Amen, Br Jack- beautifully and hopefully stated!
    “What we all have in common is this unrelenting pursuit of God. We have all pursued God this far and we want to keep it going.”

Leave a Comment