"We attain human maturity as we live relationships more deeply and become open to others and ready to serve them," writes Jean Vanier, founder of L'Arche Community, a place where people with mental disabilities live with others in mutual support. In this brief meditation, he ponders the many levels of meaning in Jesus' act of washing the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper.
Vanier finds in this gesture of humility — a task usually performed by slaves and servants — an attitude of service which Jesus wanted to pass on to his disciples. He acts from the heart and his deeds reveal a yearning for deep communion with his friends. As leader he moves in a downward arc making himself open and vulnerable to others. It is the exact opposite of society standards where one seeks to be on top by exerting power and control.
Vanier sees the act of footwashing as a symbol and a prophecy of the kingdom of God. To enter into this mystery followers of Jesus must take the lowest place and tear down the walls separating human beings from each other. The act of footwashing is a moment of grace and unity signaling the Christian way.