Omniscience Forgetting; Omnipotence Kneeling

Christ mandatum footwashing Holy Thursday“Fully aware that the Father had put everything into His power, …He began to wash the disciples’ feet.” (John 13:3,5)

The Father had put everything into His power, and He knew it. Jesus knew the extent of His divine power.

He holds all things in His hands. All things: Tonight. Our lives. Our pasts and our future. All fall under the sway of what Christ knew at that moment, when He rose from the table to perform the work of a slave.

Pope John Paul II used to remind the priests of the world every year: Remember that Jesus thought of you that night, when he gave the sacrament to the Apostles. He chose you, at that moment, to be His priest. The plan according to which you would one day have the privilege of celebrating Mass—He held that plan in His mind at that moment.

Same thing goes for all of us Christians. How is it that we find ourselves at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, sharing in the gift of communion in the Redeemer’s holy Body and Blood? How did it come to pass that we would come together tonight, to rest our souls on the bedrock of holy truth, the fundamental mysteries of our faith? It has come to pass because He conceived it all–conceived us in our places at church–in His beautiful Messianic mind, when He first said, “Take this, all of you…”

The Father had put everything into His power. Awesome: the omniscience, the omnipotence of the God-man.

But there is something even more indescribably awesome, something even more awesomely powerful, than Christ’s divine foreknowledge or His divine Providence. The most breathtakingly powerful thing of all is that He proceeded to minister unto them as if He were their slave.

We touched this mystery of infinite power showing itself as gentle indulgence once before, when we were meditating on the parable of the Unforgiving Steward. The steward wouldn’t forgive the debtor who owed him a pittance. But the steward’s master had long since completely forgotten the much, much greater debt that the steward owed him. The master could afford to write the debt off. He was infinitely rich. He just forgot that his steward owed him the Greco-Roman equivalent of 250 million dollars. He didn’t think twice about it. When you possess infinite riches, what’s $250 million?

St. John Paul IIChrist possesses the infinite power of God. So He can kneel down and wipe the grime off our feet without thinking twice about it. No need to stand on ceremony. Nothing shows His power more decisively than His humility. Nothing commands us like His quiet service. Nothing overwhelms us like His gentleness.

Christ has omnisciently and omnipotently brought us to this moment, brought us to the hour of the Sacred Triduum, so that we can stand firm on the foundation of our faith. We can stand firm on the foundation of who we are as Christians, as Catholics, as a genuine family of God, united in His love.

But once we step out the doors this evening, and whenever we step out them, let’s remember to flex our muscle and show our power like Christ flexed His infinite muscle and demonstrated His infinite power: by stooping at the feet of our neighbors and lovingly ministering to them as if we were their household servants.

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