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  • Writer's pictureDavid Carlson

1117: I have set you an example so that you should do as I have done for you.

Day 1117: Good Friday, April 7, 2023

Jesus makes intimacy the point when he says, "So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example so that you should do as I have done for you.

Announcement: A note from Pastor Janet of Knox Presbyterian and Thanksgiving Lutheran: "As for Good Friday, we will be having a Service of Darkness and Light at 6 pm, and would love for you all to join us."

Nowhere in the Gospels is Jesus concerned with status. One of the most attractive and frankly mysterious qualities Jesus possesses is his ability to disrupt the typical flow of a social interaction because he simply does not behave according to expectations.

On that night of Passover Jesus introduces a teaching so significant that he calls it a new commandment:

Love one another. "As I have loved you, so you also must love one another" (John 13:34).

The washing of the feet, then, was never meant as a photo op or an Instagrammable moment, but instead a demonstration. This is what Jesus meant when he said to love one another. To humble yourself, to reach out and meet the other in what is messy.

As a transgender Catholic living in America in 2023, I wonder what our church could learn if we put this type of humble, messy love into practice, if we were less concerned with status and power dynamics and more interested in meeting people on the margins.

Jesus was never someone who cared about social status or about what people would say about him. He was deeply concerned with the dignity of the human person.

Sometimes society doesn't know what to do with us. But without hesitation, I know Jesus prefers us to be both present and visible. He would absolutely seek to spend time with transgender people.

Many trans people have been on both sides of the foot-washing exchange. We rely on the love and support of friends, family, doctors and other allies as we go through transition. And we walk with our cisgender friends and family as they adjust to the changes that come along with our journey. All Christians, whether part of the LGBTQ community or not, should strive to live out the new commandment this way.

This year, mere weeks before Easter, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops released a document affirming a binary view of gender, rejecting the existence of transgender identities and calling transgender health care a disordered practice. Instead of humbly acknowledging that it is our responsibility to love transgender people even if we do not understand their experience, the bishops' document serves to shore up political power among conservative Catholics and "take a stand" in America's culture wars.

Recognizing the dignity of another person is an active process that requires going out of your comfort zone, as is depicted in the picture of foot washing. Jesus' behavior throughout the Gospels is evidence of this:

He never sat back and issued judgments on groups of people. Instead, he went out to meet people where they were. On their own turf. In their own words.

To truly celebrate the mystery of Holy Week, we are called to meet people where they are — and transgender people are in the pews. We are at the grocery store, at school, in the home, living out the beautiful mystery of our lives.

Leveling theological rejections at people who are humbling themselves before God looks nothing like the example of Jesus. Maybe instead, the church can meet in a mutual intimacy of shared vulnerability — like washing each other's feet.

It's time for a Catholic ethic that sees sexuality as a gift, not a curse

Reflection by Maxwell Kuzma, a transgender man living on a farm in Ohio who writes about the intersection of queerness and faith. You can follow him on Twitter @maxwellkuzma.

For Sunday:

The Good News according to John:

Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. “Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her.

“Because they have taken away my teacher,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”

She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?”

She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”

“Mary!” Jesus said.

She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).

On Sunday we celebrate Easter. I find this passage to be the most important to me. How many times has Jesus, our friends, family members, neighbors, children, grandchildren, the homeless, the grieving, called out our name and inspired us to continue on the road to Emmaus?

I can only imagine the names of people who have loved us and shown us compassion as Jesus showed his profound understanding of Mary, her grief and suffering as he called out her name.

Please think about the names we go by... especially as we offer service to others... a litany of life: Friend, Beloved, Sister, Mother, Father, Aunt, Nurse, Medic!, Teacher, Healer, Gardener, House Cleaner, Wise Woman, Wise Man.

And think about the people who have called our name with compassionate understanding - and inspired us to go on.

We go by so many names in our lives and play so many roles. Each name, each role is linked to that wondrous awareness that our brother Jesus calls us to life.

When we understand and practice deeply the life and teachings of Buddha or the life and teachings of Jesus, we penetrate the door and enter the abode of the living Buddha and the living Jesus. . .

Through your daily life, you can help Jesus or Buddha continue. You only need to walk in mindfulness, making peaceful, happy steps on our planet. Breathe deeply and enjoy your breathing. Be aware that the sky is blue and that birds’ songs are beautiful. Enjoy being alive and you will help the living Jesus and the living Buddha continue for a long, long time. - Thich Nhat Hanh

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