The following reflection is by Tríona Doherty called "Whose feet will you wash?"
It is hard to read a Gospel story about the woman who washes and kisses the feet of Jesus without thinking of another foot washing story - when Jesus washes the feet of the disciples at the Last Supper. The woman in this story has a jar of ointment, and that seems to be all. She uses her tears to wash the feet of Jesus, and her hair to wipe them away. She gives everything she has, and throws herself totally at the mercy of Jesus, who sees the openness and humility of the gesture and responds with love.
This story also brings to mind an image which captured the public imagination earlier this year, when Pope Francis washed and kissed the feet of 12 inmates at a juvenile prison in Rome on Holy Thursday, in a powerful sign of the emphasis he wished to place on service.
'Among us the one who is highest up must be at the service of others. This is a symbol, it is a sign - washing your feet means I am at your service. And we are too, among each other,' he told them.
Saint Basil once posed the question: 'If you live alone, whose feet will you wash?' We are called to live in relationship with others and to be at the service of others. The woman in the story has been shown such forgiveness and love, and is overwhelmed at her encounter with Jesus. Because he shows her such love, she is able to respond with love. We too are loved, and we have love to share. How can we show that love in the service of others?