Holy Thursday: A Trilogy

Pat Marsh

13 April 2017

Holy Thursday: A Trilogy


Role Reversal

John 13: 1 – 5

I felt embarrassed at first,
didn’t want his hands
to touch my filthy feet,
this display of love,
wanted it to be I
who was serving him,
felt undeserving
that he should play
the servant at my feet
but later
I was to see the lesson here:
no service to others too mundane,
too inconvenient or menial,
no giving too great
when we understand
the one it is we serve.

Not a pretty sight,
my big flat fisherman’s feet,
hardened by years of weathering,
soiled by the mix of grime and sweat
that comes from days
of tramping the paths of Palestine
in open shoes.

Not a pretty sight,
or smell.

But he willingly took up a towel,
lowered himself to kneel
and lovingly washed them clean.

In my memory
I feel that water again right now;
the touch of his hands upon my feet,
the fresh, reviving, cool caress
as the dirt of days
was gently bathed away;
my feet enlivened by his touch,
toes dancing with the wonder
of this demonstration of his love.

I remember the reverence
with which he touched my skin,
the time that he gave
to complete the task,
soothing away
not only dust and dirt
but also my deep discomfort
and as my weary feet
became revived, refreshed
I understood:
no service too distasteful
when we recognise
the face of him
whom we are serving.

My feet came fully alive
that night.


The Bread

Luke 22:19

With gentle, reverent hands
that were to be broken and mutilated,
bloodstained and shattered
by the imprint of the nails,
with those very same hands
he lifted up the bread
and looking at the twelve
said ‘this is my body’
and tearing it apart with his hands
he symbolised
what was to happen:

this is my body
to be broken
for you

and he passed the bread
around the table
one to another

take, eat
receive my body into yourselves

I do this
for you

remember me
when you break the bread.



I held his gaze
for a lifetime

compressed within a second

eyes locked
in unspoken pain
and understanding

of a calling
too high
to walk away from,
the excruciating cost.

I knew about calling
and the cost of his
couldn’t have been higher

with every nerve in my body
I felt the inevitability of it

twist and turn
of the journey,
every road
from the stable to now
had been leading,
towards this path
propelling me
into this sword piercing pain,
the agony
of watching him
steadily walk
towards his certain death

broken dreams
a lifetime of emotion
filled the air between us.

We dare not let ourselves
come close
for fear
the nearness would totally break us,
our love for each other
draw him away
from the call.

I busied myself
bit my lip
got on with the difficult business
of being ordinary.

© Pat Marsh
Image The Last Supper, John August Swanson, with permission.