Pope Francis went to a juvenile detention facility on Holy Thursday to wash the feet of a dozen inmates (here). This ritual is something that the pope has done for a long time and is simply continuing as pope. This act of kindness has also been described as a re-enactment of Jesus washing the feet of His disciples. But is the pope really following Jesus’ example? Let’s look at the scriptures that tell the story:
So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?
Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.
If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
It’s important to note that He is washing the feet of His disciples-followers of Christ. This isn’t a random act of kindness for a random group of people. The example for His disciples is for them to repeat this act with each other. I believe that the context of this passage only has Christians in mind and not others. That isn’t to say that Christians are not supposed to wash anyone else’s feet, or do other acts of love. My point is simply to demonstrate that the example Jesus set was for His followers and not everyone.