Ascension: It’s the Feet

Put your best foot forward we’re told throughout our lives.

It’s the last things those land locked apostles saw as Jesus left them to their own wits.  (Don’t worry, the Holy Spirit is en route and right on cue.  Stage directions: Jesus leaves first, wait awhile then cue the Holy Spirit to enter the stage when the apostles least expect it,” says the director’s notes.)
It’s considered to be the worst part of us.  It’s the pair of us that we often hide (unless you’re a woman choosing the “open toe” version).  This pair is hidden from others at great expense for women but that may be changing these days.  DSW moved to Burleigh, it’s farther now from my home.  Imelda Marcos bragged of owning  3,000 pairs of them to hide hers.  (What?  Did she have hammer toes?)  Observers say of ours that they are sometimes unsightly, somewhat smelly – it’s the leftovers, the bottom part of our bodies yet nothing beats walking in the sand without wearing any of Imelda’s 3,000 pairs.
It’s been said this pair at the bottom of us is the first thing people notice so I guess during your important job interview make sure to hoist those suckers on the table to make the best impression.
What third grader says, “I want to be a podiatrist when I grow up?”  How does one stumble or walk into that field?  There’s probably ten good reasons but spiritually I’ll soon give you one.
The last thing the apostles see of Jesus is… his feet.  They’ve misread, misunderstood, underestimated, underrated, questioned and wondered everything about this guy from the very beginning while all the time these two appendages been referred to and referenced about and metaphorized about…

his feet were on the ground,
he stood firmly,
his steps never faltered,
she washed his feet and then dried them with her hair,
his foot did not slip,
his steps did not deviate from His way,
he guided our feet in the way of peace,
he did not stand in the path of sinners,
he would shake the dust off of his feet,
all who were ill were placed at his feet and he healed them,
the synagogue official fell at his feet and implored him to come to his house,
Mary fell at his feet and said her brother would not have died if only he had…
Mary again seated at the Lord’s feet listened to his word,
he walked blamelessly,
he did not need to cut one foot off to save the other,
water could not stop his movements,
the pair of his were nailed together
and now it’s the last thing we see of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  We see his feet.

Wash the feet of others Jesus tells us before his arrest.  Peter goes nuts and wants a complete body wash but Jesus calmly tells him, “It’s the feet, dummy, just the feet.”  Jesus asks us to touch a vulnerable spot in someone or ourselves and wash it with His Father’s sincere mercy and in His genuine love.  Find the most painful, those difficult times, that most irksome, countless tireless arguments, sleepless endless regrets.  Whatever bothers you the most, from now on – think first of that pair beneath you and then proceed to your struggle.  Then watch what happens.
They all had dirty feet in those days so before entering a guest’s house or their own home they would naturally wash off the street’s dirt.  (If only Imelda could have been left with 2,988 pairs of them then the apostles might have gotten Jesus’ message.  Alas.)
We need a pair of them to take out the garbage at 9:00 p.m.  We need this pair of them to get us to work and safely back home again.  Some need to spend $150.00 on them in spite of who made them and in what third world country and at what meager daily wage.  As we age we find we may need velcro to bind the pair of them.
We also need a pair of them to remind us of those vulnerable parts of our own lives before we judge the feet of others.  It may not be theological but it’s certainly spiritual: the Ascension is all about the ugliest part of us, our feet.  Let’s not be afraid to touch and soothe aching arches and tired soles.  Mom called them “tootsies.”  (And do pigs really go to the market?)  Let’s not be afraid to look for the hidden lint between those ten things that keep us from getting closer to ourselves and each other.
Is the true meaning of the Ascension that Jesus is heavenly raised upward as though that means anything to us in our day to day lives?  Or is the Feast of the Ascension really about the man who walked among us and who still journeys with us, each step of the way?  One step at a time.  He told us to wash ours and each others’ every chance we get.  And it’s the last thing we see of Him.  I think it’s all about the feet.

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About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). www.Salvatorians.com. He is associate pastor of partnering parishes, Christ King and St. Bernard parishes in Wauwatosa, WI.
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