To my dear sisters in Christ, I wish I had had it in my power…
A friend and I were recently together during Adoration and she said to me, “I have to spend more time gazing on the Cross. I notice that you look at the Cross a lot.” Her words seemed to penetrate my heart and I realized that, yes, I do spend a great deal of time with my eyes to the Cross. In pondering her statement, it seems, almost without thinking, that upon entering a Church, I allow my eyes to search for Him Who is Crucified. When my eyes and my heart have found Him, they make their way from the bottom of His pierced feet to the tip of His thorn-crowned sacred Head. I am drawn to Him, and as of late, I have been contemplating His feet.
I am not one to proclaim that I enjoy feet. In fact, I often marvel at those who find feet fascinating and tolerate them as part of their everyday life… you know, podiatrists, foot surgeons or those who give pedicures (my personal favorite!). Feet are not something that I feel particularly fond of; in fact I often feel that uneasiness in my stomach at the sight of some feet…unless they are babies’ feet. Who doesn’t love babies’ feet? But then the feet of Christ are something altogether different and lovely. My mind recalls the very powerful scene in the Passion of the Christ, when Mary, at the foot of the Cross, takes the feet of Her Son as He is dying and kisses them with the kisses of Her mouth. She comes away bloodied, yet so completely beautiful at having just kissed the feet of Her Savior, an act which shows Her complete love and surrender to Him.
Looking to Scripture, “feet” have significance and point to something very beautiful and poignant to Our Lord. In the Old Testament, the “washing of feet” appears nine times; the reference to “sandals on the feet” appears 16 times; the reference to placing sandals on the feet appears 4 times in the Old Testament and again in the New Testament story of the Prodigal Son in Luke, Chapter 15. While there is no shortage of references to feet in Scripture, it leads me to a deeper question. What is it about the Lord’s feet that captivates me and draws me closer to Him? It begins with an understanding of the significance of feet and the dignity and humility to which they reference.
Feet are an essential part of the human body. They aid in transporting a person and allowing her to walk, run, hop, skip, dance, swim and to perform many of the other physical activities that a body can perform when it comes to movement. We hear in the Book of Exodus that when Moses approached the Burning Bush and was coming into the Presence of God, he was commanded to remove his shoes for the ground on which he walked was “hallowed.” This ground he was about to walk on was holy ground, consecrated for the Lord God almighty. The feet of Moses would be permitted to walk on this holy ground, but not while wearing his dirty sandals. Only in his bare feet could he walk on this ground. Because his feet were naked, he was in a state of profound humility and also in a posture of respect. Bare feet in Scripture are also a sign of poverty and we know that the Lord desires our great poverty in order to become completely dependent upon Him for our needs. It is this desire for poverty that I find myself attracted to… as if Jesus is calling me to a poverty of my soul in the viewing of His pierced feet.
It is not by accident that the liturgy I find myself drawn to again and again is the Holy Thursday liturgy and specifically the washing of the feet. Every time I witness this act of utter humility and poverty of the priest who stoops down to wash the feet of his sheep, I am moved to tears. I am reminded that Christ is the One Who gives the ultimate example of humility in this act He performs for His friends. He shows His disciples, and He shows me, what it means to truly lay down one’s life for his friends. Even as Peter rebukes Jesus saying, “You shall never wash my feet,” Jesus is teaching them and me that the task of discipleship is anything needed to convert and care for all; nothing is too degrading to bring others closer to Christ. Jesus, in His humility, spurs us into action. It is His beautifully pierced feet which call me to follow Him and to follow Him into the poverty of dependence upon Him and Him alone.
Jesus calls us to “walk in His ways,” to “follow Him,” to “walk in the way of the Lord,”and we ask Him to “draw me into your footsteps,” all of which require our feet to do so. His Kingship is one of the Kingdom of Heaven where all will bow down to worship Him… to fall at His feet in all humility and to praise and glorify Him. As He lifts the woman caught in adultery from the ground; from her posture of shame and despair as she is physically at the level of His feet, so too He calls me and you to know Him fully; to look deeply into His eyes and to know our worth and our dignity as the treasure that we are. We are called to stand firmly, with “sandals on our feet” symbolizing our dignity as a child of God, and to proclaim Him as our Savior. As I continue to walk with my head held high as a daughter of the King, I pray that I will continue to see His feet as an encouragement to remain on the path of His love, His mercy and His strength. Those beautiful feet of Jesus teach me to walk in the confidence I have only through Him and to stay committed to the path He has ordained for me. I pray that through Mary, Our Blessed Mother, who remained at the feet of Her Son, that I can be a strong witness of what Christ has done for me and encourage those along my journey… the journey I continue to take, in His grace, one step at a time, with my own two feet.
Copyright 2022, Nicky Verna, M.Th.