John 13:1-17, 31b-35
Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?" Jesus answered, "You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand." Peter said to him, "You will never wash my feet." Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no share with me." Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!" Jesus said to him, "One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you." For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, "Not all of you are clean."
After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord--and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.
Jesus said, "Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, `Where I am going, you cannot come.' I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are proved right when you speak
and justified when you judge.
Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Surely you desire truth in the inner parts;
you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
King David had been out on the roof of his house.. wandering around.. looking at the city around him.. and the country that he ruled. As his eyes scanned the scenery he spotted a woman on the roof of her house – Bathsheba – she was naked and bathing.. As King David watched.. he began to desire her.. and even though she was married he devised a plan to have her… Seeing as though her husband Uriah was one of his soldiers.. he had him sent to the front lines of a great battle where he would certainly be killed.. He was.. and after the appropriate time of mourning.. David had Bathsheba brought to him and married her…
Seeing David’s wickedness.. the Lord sent Nathan the prophet to David to rebuke him of his sin.. and so David confessed.. and.. during his time of penance.. David wrote the Psalm I shared with you.. and cried out to the Lord.. “Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”
From the very beginning of human history – when Adam and Eve – were banished from the Garden of Eden.. this cry has crossed the lips of all God’s children.. “Wash me… Wash me from my sins.. so that I might be whiter than snow.. so that I might be cleansed of my sins.”
And so.. from Adam and Eve.. to us today.. it has always been this way… but on one certain day.. ordained by God… Jesus opened the gates to another way… On that day.. Jesus began by taking on the role of a slave.. and washing the disciples feet.. Peter objected.. but Jesus insisted.. “If you are to be a part of me… If you are to be where I am going… then you must allow me to wash your feet… you must allow me to cleanse you…
Afterwards.. scripture says… While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body." Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
It is fair to say that the disciples failed to understand the significance and the relation of these two events.. but after his crucifixion and death.. they would come to understand that the foot washing was symbolic of the washing of their souls through the body and blood of Christ…
Jesus – God – humbled himself to the role of a slave and washed their feet so that they might be outwardly clean.. Jesus – God – humbled himself to death upon a cross so that their souls might be cleansed… He showed them what it is to be a servant of all… and He showed them what it is to have love for one another.
Today.. we celebrate the gift of the most Holy Eucharist… The symbol used in the washing of the feet.. demonstrates to us the washing of our souls.. and it is the answer to our cry.. “Wash me, Lord.. Wash me.. and I will be whiter than snow.”