DANBURY—A symbolic act of service and a reminder to not only follow the example of the Lord but to call on Him and trust Him, was the message at the Holy Thursday Mass at St. Gregory the Great Parish in Danbury.
“What our Lord did that evening was very powerful and meaningful. He wanted to do something the apostles would not forget,” said Pastor Father Michael Dunn during his homily about the Last Supper.
“The Son of God chose to take the role of a servant,” Father Dunn said. “Our Lord wants to take that role in our lives too. What we are to understand is that our Lord loves us so much, he wants to serve us and like the apostles, we are to allow Him,” Father Dunn said.
Father Dunn explained in Jesus’ time it was a job for the slave, servant or children of a household, not the master of the house, to wash the feet of a visitor as an act of hospitality. Since the apostles called Jesus master it was hard for them to grasp why he would want to wash their feet. The reenactment of the washing of the feet, imitates the humility and selfless love of Jesus, who washed the feet of the Twelve Apostles at the Last Supper, the night before his Crucifixion.
“I am so humbled and honored to be able to follow the example the Lord has given to us,” Father Dunn said before he washed the feet of six schoolteachers, assisted by parochial vicar, Father Christopher Ford.
Father Dunn said when asked to participate most people are either honored, surprised or uncomfortable, much like St. Peter who at first did not want the Lord to wash his feet. But when he understood the significance of the act, a spiritual cleansing and gift of love, he readily agreed.
Father Dunn said teachers from St. Gregory the Great School were chosen for the foot washing reenactment because of their service to the community during the pandemic.
“They have gone above and beyond the call of duty during COVID-19,” he said. “I couldn’t think of anymore more deserving to have their feet washed.”
The teachers reflected the sentiment of the homily.
“It was very humbling to be recognized in such a special way,” said Joya Timmel, a kindergarten teacher and one of the six people who had their foot washed.
Fellow teacher, Amanda Delaney, who teaches pre-K students, said at first she was hesitant to participate because she felt she should be doing an act of service but then realized, like St. Peter, it is just as important to accept and receive acts of love.
“What an amazing experience,” she said. “I felt privileged. How lucky was I to be chosen out of everyone here? It was a great honor.”
Father Dunn said there are many lessons to be learned and actions to be taken to live our faith.
“We are to perform humble charitable acts for others but at the same time we are to be open to a God that wants to serve us,” said Father Dunn, adding that we should be dependent on God.
“We are to go to him for everything and trust He will always do what is in our best interest,” Father Dunn said.
Father Dunn said he is happy to see more and more familiar faces in the pews as COVID-19 restrictions are slowly being relaxed while the church continues to maintain sanitization and social distancing practices.
“We want people to come back to church. It’s time to stop denying what the Mass and God can do when we come together and receive the Eucharist,” he said. “It’s time to come back home.”