A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John (Jn 13:1-15)
Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come
to pass from this world to the Father.
He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.
The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over.
So, during supper,
fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power
and that he had come from God and was returning to God,
he rose from supper and took off his outer garments.
He took a towel and tied it around his waist.
Then he poured water into a basin
and began to wash the disciples' feet
and dry them with the towel around his waist.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him,
"Master, are you going to wash my feet?"
Jesus answered and said to him,
"What I am doing, you do not understand now,
but you will understand later."
Peter said to him, "You will never wash my feet."
Jesus answered him,
"Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me."
Simon Peter said to him,
"Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well."
Jesus said to him,
"Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed,
for he is clean all over;
so you are clean, but not all."
For he knew who would betray him;
for this reason, he said, "Not all of you are clean."
So when he had washed their feet
and put his garments back on and reclined at table again,
he said to them, "Do you realize what I have done for you?
You call me 'teacher' and 'master,' and rightly so, for indeed I am.
If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet,
you ought to wash one another's feet.
I have given you a model to follow,
so that as I have done for you, you should also do."
John tells us that Jesus was "fully aware" of what was to come. That it was "his hour to pass from this world to the Father." And this, in His full awareness of what was to come, is what He chose to do with His disciples, wash their feet. The image above came to mind as I was praying with this passage. Because, Jesus in this picture looks like a servant, not just that He's washing Peter's feet, but also just what He's wearing. The "model He gave to follow" was servitude. That we might "submit to one another out of reverence for Christ" (Eph 5:21) as St. Paul says.
If this is where it ended, this would be a nice passage calling us to serve one another. But Christ didn't only take on the role of servant. He also became a slave. ("He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave.") He took upon Himself on the cross the effects of our slavery to sin, that we might be set free. How did the apostles look upon this feet washing after the crucifixion? The extent to which our love for one another must go. "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends." Jn 15:13.
Points to ponder:
Jesus was aware of the impending suffering and death He was to undergo. Yet he looked to the needs of His apostles. What suffering has been in my life lately, or do I foresee? Do I react by turning inward on myself, thinking only of my own needs and sufferings? Or do I see the Father's hand in all my sufferings, and remain in His love, so as to love those around me?
In what ways (little or great) is the Lord asking me to follow His example, to lay down my life for my friends?
"Do you realize what I have done for you?" Take a step back from the busyness of life. Reflect on what He has done for you, day to day, in His passion, in the gift of the Eucharist.