In the Washing of the Feet we see the humility of Jesus. His disciples were taken by surprise. When I was in Peru, I once selected twelve men at random to wash their feet. They were a little embarrassed because they had not prepared their feet the way the twelve chosen tonite have - at least I hope so! Still, in Peru I was much closer to Jesus' experience.
The Church Fathers saw the Washing of the Feet as an indication of post-baptismal cleansing: "Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over." (Jn 13:10) For us Catholics this refers to the forgiveness of sins we receive thru the Sacrament of Reconciliation - and the Eucharist itself.
Jesus gives us a model, "I, therefore, your master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet." (Jn 13:14) This verse has been terribly misinterpreted. Jesus is not proposing a "theology of good works." Or worse, saying the purpose of the Last Supper is to teach us to do nice things for each other. The point of foot washing is humility not self exaltation.
Let me give a comparison. To reduce the Last Supper to a motivational seminar for good works is like saying the meaning of the sun is to be the energy source for the light bulb in my room. True enough, solar energy makes possible the fossil fuels and rivers used to produce electricity, but it is so much greater than the few watts I make use of. I can even start thinking that what really counts is whether or not I choose to flip the light switch!
What counts is Christ - his self-offering to the Father. My own efforts are so puny, so half-hearted, so mixed with pride. For that reason they often backfire and I am left hurt, "Why don't they appreciate all I do for them?"
Tonite we have the opportunity to put things in their right perspective. After admiring Jesus' humility in washing his disciples' feet, we have the chance to worship him as he is. At the end of Mass comes the beautiful procession for the Transfer of the Eucharist. We will take some time to adore Jesus. He is the sun. We are flickering bulbs who depend totally on him for our energy.
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Holy Family Pilgrimage
See also: An Eternally Unbridgeable Chasm
The Fiery Furnace
Jesus Teaching Concerning Heaven
Some Good News on Teen Pregnancy and Abortion
Hitler's Pope: Comic Book Approach to Church History
He Approached the Victim: "It's much more likely one of your relatives will lose his life by surgical abortion than by heart attack."
Germaine Greer on Birth Control
Human Cloning: A Catholic Perspective (How the Unthinkable Became Inevitable)
Boston Globe's Misleading Article on Catholic Church
Deflating Darwin's Dangerous Idea
Stephen Jay Gould: Gorbachev of Darwinism?
Test Tube Offspring Want to Know Father
Erickson vs. Bartell Drugs
Call No Man Father
What is Original Sin of Sex?
Bicentennial Man (Hidden Assumptions)
Bogus Knights of Columbus Oath
Ossuary of James, Son of Joseph, Brother of Jesus
St. Mary of the Valley Album
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