On Holy Thursday the La Salle Academy educational community had four Prayer Services prepared by The Office of Campus Ministry. Each of the services featured readings done by students, a homily by Academy chaplain, Reverend Michael Najim, washing of the feet of students, faculty and staff, and a reflection by a member of the class.
The following are the reflections offered by the students.
Today, we are celebrating Holy Thursday, the day when Jesus sat down with the 12 apostles to eat the Last Supper.
Before Jesus and his apostles ate, he washed each and every one of the apostles’ feet. This washing was more than just a kind gesture; he was showing humility in his service to the apostles. Here was the son of God, washing the calloused, mud-crusted feet of his followers; including the apostle who would betray him merely hours after the Supper was over.
In the Gospel of John 13:14, Jesus says “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.”
This is our call to service, and one of the reasons why we go out on Christian Service. Our founder, Saint John Baptist De La Salle, fully embodied this message from Jesus, and here we are today.
We fulfill this passage from Jesus as well, by going out on Christian Service every Wednesday for a quarter of the school year. I was fortunate enough to be sent to Tides Family Services, a school for kids who have made bad decisions in their past, whether it means being arrested, or have gotten kicked out of their previous schools. These kids are not exactly the most polite kids and have horrendous language, and the teachers that work there have extremely thick skin, but they are some of the most amazing people I have ever met.
Visiting Tides on Wednesday’s was the highlight of my week. I made friends there that I will never forget.
There was Griffin, who was the loudest kid I have ever met. He loved snack time, dodgeball, and the Jerry Springer show, and hot sauce.
There was Randolph, who loved to play basketball, and knew more about rap music than anyone I’ve ever talked too.
And there was Devin, who loved UFC and ping pong.
These three kids, and all of the others that I met during my time at Tides, have each impacted my life in a different way. Most of these kids have criminal records. All of these kids have made bad decisions. These are the kids that society turns their back on. I’ll be the first one to tell you that these kids are some of the most genuine people I have ever met. From the second I stepped into the building, they were kind and polite to us… in their own way, of course. Jesus said treat everyone how you want to be treated, and that was the mindset I had going into Tides. I wish I could keep going on Christian Service the whole year.
As Lasallians, we show the same humility that Jesus showed when he washed the feet of his apostles, and this is an image that all of us should keep in the back of our heads as Easter approaches.
I’d like to start off with a quote stated by Mother Teresa, “Love is not patronizing and charity isn’t about pity, it is about love. Charity and love are the same — with charity you give love, so don’t just give money but reach out your hand instead.”
Generally people define charity as giving money, or participating in an annual event, or doing volunteer work. These are all fantastic acts of kindness and I personally enjoy participating in or doing each and every one of them. But one will never gain the full extent of the experience until they sincerely give themselves to others. We don’t all have to be Mother Teresa, however it is worthy to note that the more effort you put into service, the more you will get out of it. And I can guarantee you that one who is true to the service and genuine when doing it will feel changed. You will feel better about yourself. But more importantly you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you bettered the life of someone else. It may be something small, but this small act translates into other small acts and who knows how far you can take it.
I am currently a member of the San Miguel Association group along with a handful of your classmates. San Miguel is a Lasallian middle school in Providence. The club members and I spend quality time with these gentlemen and act as mentors and show what it means to be a true Lasallian. I joined the group along with a few of my friends and I thought that it sounded like a fun thing to do. But little did I know of the great impact that it would have on me.
A few weeks ago we all went bowling with the San Miguel gentlemen. I got in my car afterschool and followed my friend to a bowling alley a few miles away. We all gathered on the San Miguel bus in the parking lot outside of the bowling alley, and talked with the students for a short period of time until everyone was present. And then we all formed groups and went inside of the bowling alley. I was placed in a group with this particular boy named Raymar. Right from the moment I met him something stood out to me, but I didn’t know what it was. Raymar didn’t say much; he was very soft spoken and clearly a shy individual. So I did my best to make conversation, and we enjoyed the small talk for a while. Then I gave him some tips on how to bowl. And listen, I am not a good bowler by any means; however, somehow he started to do much better and was knocking down all of the pins with ease. I thought to myself “how the heck did I just teach him how to bowl like a champ when I can’t even do it myself?” But that is beside the point! From that moment on he started to open up to me more and more and he shared stories with me about his daily routine. We both enjoyed the conversation very much. During the few hours I spent with Raymar I really enjoyed getting to know him.
As I was preparing to leave, Raymar came up to me and said that he had a lot of fun getting to know me and that he can’t wait to hangout again next time. Then he paused and said “thank you for listening to me”. At this moment it seemed as if time had stopped. I felt a feeling that I have never felt before. It was better than winning a hockey game; it was better than having a good time with my friends. I made Raymar’s day. And I made a new relationship that I can always count on. This shy boy who stood quietly in the back of the room had just gone out of his way to show his appreciation of our time together. Raymar truly appreciated my effort to get to know him.
Through this experience I was able to find God. And that is where the special feeling comes from. This particular moment inspired me to get even more involved in and out of school. And I encourage everyone to try and do something small, because the reward is greater than you would expect. And I am confident that your small contribution of time and effort will transform into more and more. The reward is a feeling that you will never know until you experience it yourself. Please make your best effort to get involved. Thank you.
When asked how do you wash the feet of others, I think of literally scrubbing someone else’s feet. But when put into the perspective of today’s reading, there is a much more deeper meaning. Jesus says to his disciples, “you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” He is not talking about going around scrubbing people’s feet, but doing what he has taught them to do to others. We, as a community, can take this and use it in our everyday lives. We can start a chain reaction by helping each other, giving a smile to someone, or just simply brightening someone’s day. And by just affecting one person, that may make them brighten someone else’s days by a simple gesture.
The service trip that I will be going on this coming week to Montana is a way of washing the feet of others because we as a community are helping another community all the way across the country. The Lasallian school that we will be helping is on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. In their community there is a high percentage of alcoholism. We could change the future of the children in this community by making a small difference, whether it is a material item, or giving a child a new friendship. When I go to Montana I am hoping to give a child something that they can cherish for the rest of their lives even if it just some simple advice or a small toy. I am hoping to make at least a small impact.
Jesus says, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.” He means that something small that you may think has no significance can impact the people around us or even ourselves in the future. My hope is to change a child’s future in their community. By causing the slightest shift in someone’s life, we are doing a service to them, to ourselves, to the world, and also to God. Service? What is Service? It is washing the feet of others.