Moms, of which I am one, crack me up sometimes. One thing that characterizes many moms is that way we show our love is by either “washing it or feeding it.” That’s the first thing we do with our babies, wash them and feed them. The kids bring home a stray dog, what do you do? Wash it and feed it.
My husband brought home a friend once that needed a place to stay for a few days and I really had to bite my tongue not to say, “okay, wash him and feed him.”
In my neck of the woods when calamity strikes, tragedy, a death, my first response is usually, “I’ll make coffee and bake us some brownies.” The irrationality of that response makes me laugh. It’s a bit like when someone’s father dies and your first thought is, “let me bake you some casseroles.” It is a small token of affection, a way of expressing love, a rather powerless response to something we cannot possibly fix, but I want you to know you are loved. I want to show you, you are loved.
How do you love someone in a tangible way when the issues are so huge and you have little power? If you’re a mom, often you will just instinctively resort to, “wash ’em and feed ’em.” It’s just maternal instinct, innate to so many women.
I rather like that analogy because it is so Christ-like. What did Jesus do? Wash ’em and feed ’em. Now of course, there is the literal translation of what that means, and then the profound spiritual depth of what it really means to baptize people in the river and to multiply fishes and loaves for them so they won’t go hungry. Jesus takes the idea of “wash ’em and feed ’em” to a whole new level.
Of course there are deeper meanings here and huge spiritual implications, and the concept of “wash ’em and feed ’em” is not limited to just moms, but I like the way that somewhat instinctual maternal love is like a small reflection of the kind of love that Jesus Christ has for us all, the way He offers to wash us clean of our sins and to provide us with spiritual food, the Bread of Life.
That’s what those of us who follow Jesus Christ are called to do too, to “wash ’em and feed ’em.” We can’t do that by ourselves with soap and water and casseroles, but we can do it spiritually, by pointing people in the right direction and by letting them know they are loved.