Soul Food for Sundays

Soul Food for the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, 29th October  2023

Reflections 29th October 2023
Matthew 22:34-40

The Author: Ronan Barry
calendar_today Date: October 11, 2023 - 3 minutes read

To love God and to love your neighbour goes to the centrality of Jesus’s life. The gospel phrase goes to the heart of belief and action, and it is the phrase that attracts many people to Christianity.

In Ireland, we have a great love of people who put themselves at the service of their neighbour. This came to the fore during the Covid pandemic: neighbour helping neighbour, friend helping friend and strangers coming together to ensure that all were included and not left in isolation during this time of crisis. These examples remind us all not just to believe in Jesus but also to live as Jesus lived.

Sometimes bad religion prioritises the obedience to the law rather than the action of self-giving love. The Pharisees in today’s Gospel scene were portrayed as having an incomplete understanding of God’s love for everybody. As Christians we are called to follow Jesus’ life which witness to good religion and how to live by it.

At the time of writing this small reflection, the 2023 Rugby World Cup is in full flow. Commentators speak openly about the commitment of players to the cause of the Irish effort. Comments like, he left it all on the pitch or he emptied the tank are phrases that we have heard over the last number of weeks.

Today we are asked to give it all to God, not just as an aspiration but through good actions to all we encounter. We pray for this grace to bring God’s love to all we meet. 


Tenderness encircled us
as He bowed before us.
He knelt and said,
“I choose to wash your feet
because I love you.”

God in an apron, kneeling.
I couldn’t believe my eyes.
I was embarrassed
until His eyes met mine.
I sensed my value then.
He touched my feet.
He held them in His strong, brown hands.
He washed them.
I can still feel the water.
I can still feel the touch of His hands.
I can still see the look in His eyes.

Then He handed me the towel
and said,
“As I have done, so you must do.”
Learn to bow.
Learn to kneel.

Let your tenderness encircle
everyone you meet.
Wash their feet –
not because you have to –
but because you want to.

It seems I’ve stood two thousand years
holding that towel in my hands.
“As I have done, so must you do,”
keeps echoing in my heart.

“There are so many feet to wash,”
I keep saying.
I hear God’s voice
resounding through the years.
“There are only My feet.
What you do for them,
you do for Me.”

Photo by Josue Michel on Unsplash

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Ronan Barry

Ronan is Director of Spiritan Mission Ireland, set up in 2017 to respond, in line with Spiritan charism, to the current context of the Irish Spiritan Province and Church. He was part of the Spiritan education team for over ten years. He lives with his family in Co. Kildare.