Daily Devotions: Washing Feet

Dorothy Day - Entertaining Angels

 Podcast version here

Yesterday, in the Sunday School class that I teach, we were watching a clip from the movie “Entertaining Angels.” It tells the story of Dorothy Day who started a homeless shelter in the slums of New York City during the Great Depression. It’s a wonderful story of how a sinner becomes a saint in modern times, and is almost the equivalent of St. Francis of Assisi’s conversion and ministry of compassion.

The scene we watched yesterday shows Dorothy and her associate, Peter Maurin, washing the feet of a homeless old man. Gently, they take off his shoes to reveal soiled, bruised, and blistered feet. They carefully wash the feet clean and then Peter does something unexpected. He takes off his only pair of shoes and hands them over to the homeless man. The scene ends with Dorothy asking Peter what he will now do for shoes.

John 13:5       After that, Jesus poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him.

Washing someone’s feet is very humbling for the owner of the feet and the washer. When I read about Jesus washing his disciples’ dirty feet, I am both surprised and a bit shocked. Why should the Lord of all Creation stoop so low to act like a common servant? Why don’t the disciples stop Him, so that they can wash His weary feet?

And then I remember who Jesus is and feel His compassion wash over me. If the King of Kings becomes a servant to His followers, then I must also learn to be a servant in His Kingdom. I may never aspire to be a wonderful servant of Christ like Dorothy, but I can decide to serve Christ each day of my life. Instead of wanting to be a charismatic leader, I need to learn to be more of a compassionate servant.

Wherever we find ourselves today and in whosoever company we end up, let’s attempt to be servants of Jesus, compassionate caregivers, and humble followers, so that people will see less of us and more of Christ.

Prayer:                        Lord Jesus, washing the feet of others is not something that we naturally want to do. We all have trouble with humility and service, esteem and pride. Help us today to become less of ourselves and more of You. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.

John Stuart, Scottish pastor at Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, TennesseeP.S You can watch the movie clip on the internet at the following link:




About stushie

I'm originally from Scotland and have been a Presbyterian pastor for over twenty years. I live in Knoxville, TN. I enjoy art as a means of therapy, but also as a creative way to strengthen my spiritual connection to God.
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One Response to Daily Devotions: Washing Feet

  1. 4854derrida says:


    I’ve just uploaded two rare interviews with the Catholic activist Dorothy Day. One was made for the Christophers [1971]–i.e., Christopher Closeup– and the other for WCVB-TV Boston [1974].

    Day had begun her service to the poor in New York City during the Depression with Peter Maurin, and it continued until her death in 1980. Their dedication to administering to the homeless, elderly, and disenfranchised continues with Catholic Worker homes in many parts of the world.

    Please post or announce the availability of these videos for those who may be interested in hearing this remarkable lay minister.

    They may be located here:


    Thank you

    Dean Taylor

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