At the Feet of Christ
by Nicky Verna, M.Th.
Recently, a friend was with me during Adoration, and she said, "I have to spend more time gazing at the Cross. I notice that you look at the Cross a lot." Her words seemed to penetrate my heart, and I realized that I spend a great deal of time with my eyes on the Cross. In pondering her statement, it seems, almost without thinking, that upon entering a church, my eyes search for Him Who is Crucified. As my eyes and heart find Him, they move from the bottom of His pierced feet to the tip of His sacred thorn-crowned head—I am drawn to Him, and as of late, I have been contemplating His feet.
I am not one to proclaim that I enjoy feet. Actually, I kind of wonder who finds feet fascinating other than those who must accept looking at them as part of everyday life, like podiatrists, foot surgeons, or pedicurists (my favorite). Feet are not something I am particularly fond of unless they are a baby's feet. Who doesn't love babies' feet? However, the feet of Christ are something altogether different and lovely. My mind recalls the very powerful scene in The Passion of the Christ, when Mary, at the foot of the Cross, takes her Son's feet as He is dying and kisses them. She comes away bloodied, yet it is so incredibly beautiful, showing her complete love and surrender to Him.
Looking at Scripture, "feet" have significance as they direct us toward something wonderful and poignant about Our Lord. In the Old Testament, the "washing of feet" appears nine times; the reference to "sandals on the feet" appears sixteen times; the mention of placing sandals on the feet appears four times in the Old Testament and again in the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke's New Testament. With no shortage of references, it calls me to a profound question: What about the Lord's feet that captivates and draws me closer to Him? It begins with understanding the significance of feet and the dignity and humility they reference.
Feet are an essential part of the human body, as they offer us mobility to walk, run, hop, skip, dance, swim, and many other physical activities that a body needs to perform. In the Book of Exodus, when Moses approached the Burning Bush and came toward the Presence of God, he was commanded to remove his shoes, for the ground was "hallowed," or holy ground, consecrated for the Lord God Almighty. Only Moses' bare feet were permitted to walk on this sacred ground, not dirty sandals. His naked feet represent a state of profound humility and a posture of respect. Bare feet, in Scripture, are a sign of poverty, and we know that the Lord desires us to depend entirely upon Him for all our needs. It is this desire for poverty that I find myself attracted to, as if Jesus is calling me to 'poverty' or an 'unburdening' of my soul as I view His pierced feet.
It is not by chance that I find myself repeatedly drawn to Holy Thursday's Liturgy. Every time I witness the utter humility and poverty of the priest as he stoops down to wash the feet of his sheep, it moves me to tears. I realize Christ gave us the ultimate example of humility in this act as He shows His disciples and me what it means to truly lay down one's life for His friends. Even as Peter rebukes Jesus saying, "You shall never wash my feet," Jesus teaches us that the task of discipleship is anything needed to convert and care for all; nothing is too degrading to bring others closer to Christ. Jesus' humility spurs us to action. His beautifully pierced feet call me to follow Him into the glorious 'poverty of dependency' on Him alone.
Jesus calls us to "walk in His ways," "follow Him," and "walk in the way of the Lord" as we ask Him to draw us into His footsteps with our spiritual feet. His Kingship is of the Kingdom of Heaven, where we will bow down to worship Him as we fall at His feet in humility to praise and glorify Him. Just as He lifted the woman caught in adultery from the ground; from her posture of shame and despair when she is at His feet, so too, He calls us to know Him fully; to look deeply into His eyes, and to know our worth and dignity is the treasure that we are. We are called to stand firmly, with "sandals on our feet," symbolizing our grace as children of God as we proclaim Him our Savior. As I walk with my head held high as a daughter of the King, I pray I will continue to see His feet as an encouragement to remain on the path of His love, mercy, and strength. His feet teach me to walk confidently and stay committed to the path He ordained for me. I pray to Mary, Our Blessed Mother, who remained at the feet of Her Son, that I am a strong witness for Christ and what He has done for me, and I encourage others on their path to Christ as I continue to take, in His grace, one step at a time on my own two feet.