Holy Thursday: In Flight

BY KAYA OAKES | April 2, 2015
Today’s Reading

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Palestinian Refugees

“You shall eat like those in flight,” God tells Moses and Aaron.

Imagine this: it is 6 in the morning, in a room packed with splintering bunk beds and plastic folding chairs. Women and children are lining up for food. This shelter expects them to depart within the next two hours, and will not unlock again until the afternoon. They must take a bus across town to yet another shelter to find protection from the weather, which has snapped, suddenly, back to wet and cold.

Imagine this: there are a dozen of them. A hundred. A thousand. A hundred thousand. Millions, even. They eat like those in flight because they are in flight, from monsoons, typhoons, drought, relentless snow. Poor people on the run eat with furtive motions, curling their arms around their plates protectively. What has happened to the climate, however, they may not be able to outrun.

This night, we recall Jesus’ astonishing decision to kneel before those who followed him and to transfigure himself not into something shining or glorious, but into a woman, a servant, a poor person, a slave. “You ought to wash one another’s feet,” he tells us. The feet that are trying to outrun the damage we have done to this planet, to God’s creation and to one another are filthy, as are our own. Let them cease to run, if only for some moments. Let them be clean. Let us find a way to be clean, again, together.

Reflection Questions:

  • Is it possible to outrun the things that are damaging the earth? How can we stop running and turn around to confront them?
  • How can we become servants of the environment rather than seeing ourselves as its conquerors?

Kaya Oakes teaches writing at UC Berkeley. Her fourth book, on seeking, doubt, faith and “Nones,” will be published by Orbis Books in 2015. She is a contributing writer to America Magazine, Commonweal, and the National Catholic Reporter, and a contributing editor and writer at the website Killing the Buddha.

3 replies
  1. Frank O'Brien
    Frank O'Brien says:

    Strong images, ones that stir our emotions. But emotions don’t last. When you stop and think about the situation and ideas presented, we may get the idea that it is population that is driving the earths changes.the eight billion people need energy and food. These needs are the immediate causes of our environmental problems.
    A picture of people marching across the world is not a picture of environmental damage, but a picture of greed and violence by others not seen in the picture.please don’t hype the environment with teaser pictures that don’t relate.

  2. frTom. ColganSJ
    frTom. ColganSJ says:

    We r yeast which empowers protection and evolutionary growth for our homes. May we make noisy Truth known; alas, in my beautiful NW USA, now no water is HERE. A lot of damage is already done. We r yeast, make it known, the animals are migrating North to the ?Safer places?
    Let us do the small yeast things. Fr tom, buffalo, NY.

  3. Rea McDonnell, SSND
    Rea McDonnell, SSND says:

    Kaya, how did you learn/discover that Jesus was told by Peter: “Act like a woman then!” and Jesus did. A male Jewish slave could not wash the feet of another male Jew. Who could? A Gentile slave, his children and his wife and they were also to wash the head and the hands of the family leader. Peter is so exasperated that he says, basically,” If you are going to act like a slave, go all the way, Jesus, and act like a woman.” Thanks for bringing this up.


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