There certainly has been a lot of attention to the choices of the people whose feet Pope Francis has chosen to wash. Last year Pope Francis washed the feet of prisoners, including a Muslim woman. This year, Pope Francis washed the feet of the elderly and disabled. The National Catholic Reporter has written about the controversy that has arisen about whether or not the actions of the pope can be imitated, by washing the feet of women as well as men.
In a way, such controversy is good, as it focuses our attention on a very humbling, and perhaps strange to western culture, washing of the feet. Why do we do this, and why is this event so central to the celebration of the Triduum? Avoiding the controversy about whether or not women’s feet can be washed during this rite, the truth is the actions of Jesus were clearly meant to get attention. We could argue that even the apostles themselves were not of one mind about whether or not Jesus should do this. Consider Peter’s refusal, at first, to allow Jesus to wash his feet.