Gary Smith, S.J. writes movingly in Radical Compassion: Finding Christ in the Heart of the Poor about washing the feet of the poor:
Tonight, at the Holy Thursday liturgy, many of the poor were present, having their feet gently washed and dried by others in imitation of Jesus. When I saw it all in front of me—the poor, the washing basins, the awkwardness of the washers, the faces of the silent and reverent congregation—I realized once again what the sanctity of service is and that the truth of the heart of Christ is found in the washing of feet. When I have washed feet, I have realized that it is only from below that I can really see what is above.
A long time ago I read a reflection by Luigi Santucci in his book Meeting Jesus about the bowl that Christ used in washing the feet of his disciples. I remember thinking, like him, that if I had to choose some relic of the Passion, I wouldn’t pick up a scourge or a spear, but that round bowl of dirty water. And I would want to go around the world with that receptacle under my arm, looking only at people’s feet; and for each one I’d tie a towel around me, bend down, and never raise my eyes higher than their ankles, so as not to distinguish friends from enemies. I’d wash the feet of atheists, drug addicts, arms dealers, murderers, pimps, abusers of all kinds—and all in silence, until they understood.
Read the entire selection.