In my parish tonight (“Holy Thursday”) there will be six men and six women undergoing the profound symbolism of Washing of the Feet. Despite my own personal feelings siding with the tradition that Jesus Washed the Feet of His male Apostles, I can say nothing but reflect on the symbolic meaning. Should not the homily of Holy Thursday also reflect the humble meaning behind the Washing of the Feet?
I say this because so few Catholics fail to understand this catechesis.
**“You are clean, but not all of you”. Today, the Lord alerts us to the self-sufficiency that puts a limit on his unlimited love. He invites us to imitate his humility, to entrust ourselves to it, to let ourselves be “infected” by it.
He invites us - however lost we may feel - to return home, to let his purifying goodness uplift us and enable us to sit at table with him, with God himself.
Let us add a final word to this inexhaustible Gospel passage: “For I have given you an example” (Jn 13: 15); “You also ought to wash one another’s feet” (Jn 13: 14). Of what does “washing one another’s feet” consist? What does it actually mean?
This: every good work for others - especially for the suffering and those not considered to be worth much - is a service of the washing of feet.
The Lord calls us to do this: to come down, learn humility and the courage of goodness, and also the readiness to accept rejection and yet to trust in goodness and persevere in it.
But there is another, deeper dimension. The Lord removes the dirt from us with the purifying power of his goodness. Washing one another’s feet means above all tirelessly forgiving one another, beginning together ever anew, however pointless it may seem. It means purifying one another by bearing with one another and by being tolerant of others; purifying one another, giving one another the sanctifying power of the Word of God and introducing one another into the Sacrament of divine love.
The Lord purifies us, and for this reason we dare to approach his table. Let us pray to him to give to all of us the grace of being able to one day be guests for ever at the eternal nuptial banquet. Amen!