Dienstag, 4. April 2017

Dhruwadeepti // Religion // Christianity // The Foot- Washing Ceremony // Fr. Sebastian Thottipattu

Dhruwadeepti // Religion // Christianity-

The Foot-washing ceremony

Fr. Sebastian Thottipattu

Fr. Sebastian Thottipattu
The circular letter from Cardinal Alenchery, the Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church, has been released recently stating that the age-old tradition of washing the feet only of men will continue in the Church governed by the Syro-Malabar tradition. By this the Church in Kerala has altogether ignored the change brought about by Pope Francis last year, including people from various walks of life including women in the foot-washing ceremony on Holy Thursday. The Pope had pointed out that the foot-washing ceremony is a symbol of the attitude of humility and service all the followers of Christ should possess in their life. Jesus had not given the instruction only for the apostles to practice it but he meant it for every follower of his. For centuries in the Church it had become merely a ceremony held on Holy Thursday to commemorate the foot washing by Jesus of his apostles but now the Pope had brought it out as a typical characteristic of all Christians and the ceremony had to manifest it in a tangible way. For this reason he chose to break off from the tradition and chose to wash the feet of even convicted prisoners and women too, making it more than merely a ceremony.

 Cardinal Alancherry and 
Indian Prime Minister-
The Foot- Washing Ceremony ?..
Cardinal Alenchery points out in his circular that the foot-washing ceremony has something to do with the salvific action of Jesus Christ as he had done it to the apostles. But the words of Jesus on completion of washing the feet of the apostles obviously indicate that it was meant for the whole Christian family. “You call me master and Lord and you are right for that is what I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you also must wash one another’s feet. I have just given you an example so that you also should do as I have shown” (John 13:13-15). Jesus spoke of a life style that must embrace those who call themselves his disciples. 

This is not meant only for the ordained ministers but for everyone who follows the gospel. Jesus was not telling his apostles to wash each other’s feet literally and confine it to the twelve only. He was on the contrary highlighting the basic quality that any disciple of his should possess with regard to his or her behavior towards others. It does not, therefore, seem coherent to consider this commemorative ceremony done on Holy Thursday, to be reserved only for men if it should bring out the larger picture that was meant by Jesus at the Last Supper. There is not even absolute certainty that women disciples were not in the group either since it was a Passover meal and women could very well have been involved in the preparation of it and were present at the meal itself. It should be borne in mind that in Jewish society women were generally ignored, as shown at the multiplication of the loaves at which the evangelist mentions four thousand men being present “not counting women and children” (Mt.15:38). Why does the Church have recourse to literal interpretation of Scripture when it suits the interests of the male clergy?

Foot washing ceremony" intended by Jesus that Pope Francis made it a more inclusive and meaningful one rather than sticking to a tradition that hardly brought out its intended significance. 
It was in view of the wider scope of the foot washing ceremony intended by Jesus that Pope Francis made it a more inclusive and meaningful one rather than sticking to a tradition that hardly brought out its intended significance. It had all the while been carried out in the Church as a ceremony and not indicative of what it was meant for the whole Christian family. By washing the feet only of men it was ignoring altogether the significance of women in society. If the foot washing signifies the importance of service to all, there is no reason why it should disallow women from being part of the group of persons whose legs are symbolically washed. Moreover, we have the words of St. Paul in his letter to the Galatians: “There is no longer any distinction between Jew and Greek or between slave and freeman or between man or woman, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Gal.3:28). Is the church the best place where this truth should be upheld without compromise?

  The Syro-Malabar Church is
betraying its biased attitude towards
women in refusing to incorporate
 them in the foot washing ceremony?

 It appears, therefore, that the Syro-Malabar Church is betraying its biased attitude towards women in refusing to incorporate them in the foot washing ceremony? Or perhaps it betrays the patriarchal mind-set that has characterized the Church in Kerala which it does not want to be disturbed? Hence they have sought cover behind tradition and ignored the reasons brought out by Pope Francis in the change he has made to the ceremony in the Latin Church. It was evident that other Churches could see the validity of his reasons for the change and implement them in their turn. But sad to say, the modern day “Pharisees” have chosen to hold on to tradition and closed their eyes to the truth. 

All the dirty linen that is washed in public in the Church in Kerala these days is indicative of the malaise of hypocrisy that is prevalent with regard to sexuality among the ranks of the clergy. This stubborn need to conform to tradition in not giving a place to women equivalent to that of men demonstrates the unwillingness to grant equal rights to women in society. The marked separation that exists between men and women in the public sphere is totally artificial in Kerala as it does not really correspond to human life but must have come through Manichean influence in the remote past. If any individual breaks this social taboo he or she is subject to severe condemnation and rash judgment. It is nothing else but the manifestation of the imbalance in the mind of society with regard to sexuality. The direction to hold on to the status quo given by the hierarchy of the Church without holding consultation among the laity on the subject can never be taken as coming from the Holy Spirit. It is indeed unfortunate that the Syro-Malabar Church is unable to read the signs of the times and has opted to remain shut up in its ivory towers. Time will tell how faithful they are to the mind of Christ in adhering stubbornly to their ancient traditions.//-

ധൃവദീപ്തി  ഓണ്‍ലൈൻ
Published from Heidelberg, Germany,   
in accordance with the European charter on freedom of opinion and press. 

DISCLAIMER:   Articles published in this online magazine are exclusively the views of the authors. Neither the editor nor the publisher are responsible or liable for the contents, objectives or opinions of the articles in any form

Keine Kommentare:

Kommentar veröffentlichen

Hinweis: Nur ein Mitglied dieses Blogs kann Kommentare posten.