Take the Next Step
“Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see” (Luke 24:38).
Much is made of hands and feet in the resurrection stories, or for that matter, in the Gospels themselves.
The biblical idea of our feet seems to emphasize an obvious truth—that wherever our feet are going, the rest of us is sure to follow. We are told in the psalms to rejoice in the feet of those who bring good news. Pilgrims know that they have actually reached the Temple, for “even now our feet our standing in your precincts.”
Mary anoints the feet of Jesus in Bethany. Jesus washes the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper. When the women meet the risen Christ they instinctively grasp at his feet. And in today’s Gospel from Luke, Jesus reassures his dumbfounded disciples that it is really him by telling them to look at his hands and feet, to touch them to know that he is not a ghost.
In the accounts describing the ascension, when Jesus departs the last thing his disciples see are his feet disappearing into the clouds.
We who live in a time when shoes are both the norm and even a matter of style, what can all this business of feet mean to us?
Perhaps we can reflect on what we learn each year by having our feet washed by others on Holy Thursday, or what we learn about the human reality of the members of our faith communities by stooping to wash someone else’s feet, even ritually. The condition of people’s feet tells stories; of those who are aging, those who have stood all their lives because of their jobs, or those who can or cannot care properly for their feet.
Jesus, even in his risen state -- what we imagine to be a glorious body -- has deliberately retained the marks of his crucifixion. He wants his disciples to know of his suffering. He wants anyone who turns to him for help to experience that the hand extended toward them is also wounded and bears the marks of the nails. He wants us to recognize that when we walk with him on the road, we will know him immediately by his feet in step with our own.
This is an odd focus for a meditation on the incarnation of God in our world, or on the mystery of the resurrection of Jesus. Yet the Gospels thought it was important enough to point to it repeatedly. What story do your feet have to tell? And even more important: Where are your feet headed?