Father Dominic invites you to find inspiration and strength in the abundant love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Join him in this short prayer of reverence to His Sacred Heart. Join him in prayer today.
Jesus speaks with action, not just words
When we hear John’s gospel in this celebration of the Lord’s Supper, we do not hear the account of the Lord Jesus’ giving us the Eucharist as the other Gospels do. In this account we read about the foot washing of the Apostles. We might find this at least a bit curious. What do we make of it?
We need to remember that people speak in both word and action. We may say that “actions speak louder than words” but both of these human traits are of import. The action of Jesus in this setting as a servant is symbolic of his humiliating death on the cross already set in motion by Judas’ willingness to betray Jesus.
In biblical times, feet (and hands) were thought to be contaminated through human activity. Streets were filled with both animal and human waste as well as other debris. The action of washing of the Apostles’ feet to remove an offensive odor can be symbolic of washing away the offensive actions done by feet and hands. Foot washing thus becomes a sign of forgiveness.
In the culture of the Middle East, washing the feet of guests was the task of servants. As Jesus moves to wash the disciples’ feet he is met by resistance from Peter, and surely other Apostles, who fail to see that the action of Jesus is more than just an act of humility. Jesus urges the apostles to repeat his action, to wash the feet of others as a means of forgiving offenses as well as being an expression of love for one another. The foot washing strengthened the bonds among the disciples on the night before Jesus died.
Another thing to note: this Passover meal involved unrelated people. In Jesus’ time, strangers rarely ate together. And when they did, they became like family to one another as in this gathering of the twelve with Jesus. Jesus reminds the disciples by his actions and words of their relationship –– not only to him –– to one another.
To love means to extend forgiveness. Jesus reinforces this in his disciples to help keep them united to one another in the coming reign of God.
— Ralph Intranuovo, SCJ
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