It was before the festival of the Passover, and Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to pass from this world to the Father. He had always loved those who were his in the world, but now he showed how perfect his love was. They were at supper, and the devil had already put it into the mind of Judas Iscariot son of Simon, to betray him. Jesus knew that the Father had put everything into his hands, and that he had come from God and was returning to God, and he got up from table, removed his outer garment and, taking a towel, wrapped it round his waist; he then poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel he was wearing. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, 'Lord, are you going to wash my feet?' Jesus answered, 'At the moment you do not know what I am doing, but later you will understand'. 'Never!' said Peter 'You shall never wash my feet.' Jesus replied, 'If I do not wash you, you can have nothing common with me'. 'Then, Lord,' said Simon Peter 'not only my feet, but my hands and my head as well!' Jesus said, 'No one who has taken a bath needs washing, he is clean all over. You too are clean, though not all of you are.' He knew who was going to betray him, that was why he said, 'though not all of you are'. When he had washed their feet and put on his clothes again he went back to the table. 'Do you understand' he said 'what I have done to you? You call me Master and Lord, and rightly; so I am. If I, then, the Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you should wash each other's feet. I have given you an example so that you may copy what I have done to you.
Introductory Prayer: (As we enter into this Holy Triduum, let us renew the grace of our Baptism. Let us renew our faith in Jesus as our Redeemer, our trust in him as the source of all grace, our hope to live today in such a way that one day we will be with him in heaven, and our love for him for the enormity of his sacrifice to save us from the consequences of our sin.)
Petition: (Let us ask Jesus to help us discover and remove from our hearts and our lives any obstacle to his grace.)
1. Through their eyes. For the disciples, Jesus was no ordinary man. He commanded wind and water, he healed the sick, demons fled before him, he was powerful in word and deed, nothing was secret to him, he knew what was in the heart of man... In a word, they had grown to believe Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God who would establish God’s Kingdom, although the full depth of what this meant had not yet been revealed to them. So when Christ rose from the table and went to each of them in turn, stooping to wash their feet, the apostles were dumbfounded. They were men from a world where the great ones made their greatness felt, but now they were learning first hand that if they were going to follow Christ, it would have to be different among them.
It is natural, all too natural, to think of our service to Jesus in terms of its advantages for us. And Jesus tells us that it does have its advantages, but in a new way: with Jesus we receive by giving, we live by dying, our true advancement is in serving
2. Lord, will you wash my feet?Silently the bewildered disciples permitted the master to stoop down, unfasten their sandals and wash their feet in the water from the basin. He went from one to the next, not saying a word, knowing that the gesture itself was being etched in the apostles’ minds and memories in a way no teaching could. The message needed no words.
Peter was not among the first this time, his reaction gradually building as Jesus went from one apostle to the next.
Something was welling up inside him. This couldn’t be, they couldn’t let him do this, there was something profoundly wrong with this scene, he was after all their Master, and no-one spoke up! When his turn came and Jesus knelt in front of him, he couldn’t help but blurt out: What, YOU wash MY feet?, with the same sincere impulse that drove him one day to say after the miraculous catch of fish: Depart from me, I am a sinful man! Peter knew and believed that Jesus was the Christ. Perhaps we at times are unmoved at the actions of Jesus, because the reality of who he is has not yet touched our hearts. If only we believed and loved as much as Peter. As we enter into the mysteries of the Passion and Death let us renew our faith and our love, let us remember who it is that is suffering and dying for us.
3. He came not to be served but to serve. If I do not wash you, you can have nothing in common with me. When Peter had tried to convince Jesus that he should not have to suffer and die, Christ had to shock him with, "Get behind me Satan" and telling him that he was not thinking like God but as man does. This time the rebuke is not as severe, but the problem remains the same, Peter has not yet learned to take his cue from Jesus and thus to begin to think as God thinks. Small wonder that we too have the same difficulty. Jesus appeals to the love and devotion hidden behind Peter’s first reaction: If I do not wash you, you can have nothing in common with me. And Peter’s next reaction is immediate and extreme. He wants to eliminate anything that could possibly endanger his being with Christ.
When he finished washing their feet and had returned to the table, he made sure that they all understood the meaning of his actions: He came to serve, and if we want to be his followers we must also learn to serve. As we follow the Holy Week liturgy, it will only become more and more apparent that he came on earth to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. Am I ready to follow him?
Conversation: Lord Jesus, I see you on your knees, washing the feet of your disciples. I too want to be clean. How many times have you not washed me clean from my sins and taken me back into your company? And Lord, I want to follow your example. But, to be able to kneel and serve you I must humble myself as you did, and serve others. Help me to stay close to you and learn from you as we relive the days in which you gave your life as a ransom for me and for all my brothers and sisters.
1. Just how routine is my consideration of the mysteries of Christ’s life? Do they impact me at all?
2. How does my faith and love compare with Peter’s?
3. Who do I find hardest to serve?