1. When the paschal supper was finished, Our Lord rose from table, laid aside His upper garment, and girding Himself with a towel, He filled a basin with water and went from one to another of the apostles, washing with His sacred hands the feet of each. This act was intended to teach us the happiness of performing menial services for those around us. To wait on others, especially on our inferiors, for Christ's sake, is far more honorable than to be waited on by them ; to make ourselves the servants of others is far more noble than to be served by them. Is this the principle on which I act ?
2. In this act were combined the two virtues which are most prominent in Our Lord's life on earth charity and humility. Charity takes a pleasure in everything that promotes the happiness
or the comfort of our fellow-men because they are the brethren of Christ. Humility takes a pleasure in whatever puts us in an inferior position, in one to which no worldly honor or dignity attaches, but rather contempt and humiliation. How sadly wanting I am in these virtues ! I dislike charity if it costs me anything, and I positively hate to be humbled, to be despised by men.
3. Yet Christ's words are true: the disciple is not greater than His Master. If our Divine Master was glorious in the sight of the angels as He stooped to wash the apostles' feet, our road to glory must be by stooping, by ministering in all humility to others. We never can be as great as our Master. We must take care lest our selfishness and pride place us in direct contrast with the Son of God.
Source: The Sacred Passion of Jesus Christ - Short Meditations for Everyday in Lent,
by Richard F. Clarke, S.J. Imprimatur 1889