Witness to Service


Yesterday, I was supposed to write a reflection about the life of St. John the Evangelist. It turned out, however, that it may take me my whole life to discover a lot about this great Apostle, Evangelist, and above all, the Beloved of Jesus. Of all the Gospel writers, John’s narrative of Jesus’ life and ministry may generally be seen in “mystical eyes” all probably because of its deep theological context. But, among all Gospel writers, it was only John’s narrative that the “Washing of the Feet” was seen. What seems to be interesting here?

Undoubtedly, Jesus’ ministry was a life of service to God and neighbor. All Gospels point out Jesus’ reaching out to the least and the marginalized. All Gospels point out Jesus’ preference to the poor. But John’s narrative of the Gospel creates a kind of cognitive dissonance, so to say, because of the striking aspect in the “Washing of the Feet”. During their time and even now, our feet may prove to be the dirtiest part of our body since almost all dust accumulates first from our feet. Yet what Jesus did was to actually wash the feet of Peter and the rest of the Apostles. He even calls that act a kind of “inheritance”. Interesting!

Hence, for John, being a witness to total service is to reach even the poorest of the poor. Total service is one’s dedication to reach to people who are ignored, neglected, society’s voiceless, avoided, ostracized, despised, and even those who are hated. Love is not only measured by one’s capability to show love to those who are lovable, but also to those who are unlovable and hateful. By this, we begin to have a fruitful encounter of Jesus who brings life to everyone!

To give it a Christmas taste, our calling as Christians is to bear witness to the Child Jesus, bringing Him to everyone, even to those whom we know we would not be treated so nicely in return. It’s like bringing joy and peace to hateful people, to those who will say to us: “You’re crazy!” and to those who threaten us. Service is reaching out to the dirtiest and darkest aspect of human life and reality – and “bringing it into light” (John 3:20-21).

A service-filled Christmas to everyone!