Many who know me know that I often speak about St. Peter’s role in my life, faith and vocation. He was the saint I chose to journey with me as I was received into the Catholic Church (my confirmation saint) because as a saint and in Scripture I could very much identify with his weaknesses. They are ever so present right there in the Holy Gospels. He gets it wrong more than he gets it right, but nonetheless Jesus chose Him to be the chief apostle, the Head of His Holy Church. Once again in the Holy Week liturgies St. Peter is a prominent figure as he denies our Lord and in today’s Gospel as He gets it wrong once again and allows himself to be the example for a lesson from our Lord; as Jesus calls the Apostles and their descendants (us) to servant leadership. As we will experience in tonight’s liturgy, the Mass of the Last Supper; Jesus washes the feet of the Apostles and we will experience that in our parishes where the washing of the feet takes place. While I was a seminarian I was part of a group of seminarians who had my feet washed by Cardinal Collins. As a priest in my parish in Markham, the six clergy (three priests and three deacons) washed the feet. I was deeply moved by one of our deacons, himself a real man of service at the age of 90 getting down and washing the feet of the people. It was powerful to witness that.
My hope is that every man or woman discerning a religious vocation takes the time that follows when we process our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament out of the church and into a chapel of repose to pray and to really reflect on the theme of service. One of the most important qualities I seek to assess in a man who has an authentic calling is a heart of service. If we are going to sustain the Church and encourage and call forth others to serve, we need to have that heart of service, to serve God but explicitly our brothers and sisters always and everywhere. If you want a sign that you’re ready to respond in generosity to what the Lord’s calling you to do, serving others will compel your heart.