what does it symbollize?
Serving others with humility and great love.
If you mean at Mass on Holy Thursday then it symbolizes service and humility.
In the ancient world, people walked log distances on dirt roads wearing sandals. Washing the feet was a service to guests which would be delegated to the lowest servant or slave. Christ washed His Disciples’ feet to demonstrate humility.
I used to attend a faith group who practiced this rite. It’s actually a surprisingly spiritual experience, quite humbling but in a good way.
In a spiritual sense, being washed all over refers to the sacrament of Baptism and the later washing of the feet symbolizes Jesus Christ cleansing our souls of any remaining temporal consequences of post-baptismal sins in Purgatory.
It is the institution of the priesthood.
The washing was an act of humility and service as others have said but it was much more. It was also the institution of the priesthood and ordination of the 12 Apostles as priests - taken right out of the Old Testament.
The LORD said to Moses, "You shall also make a laver of bronze, with its base of bronze, for washing. And you shall put it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and you shall put water in it, with which Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet. When they go into the tent of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to burn an offering by fire to the LORD, they shall wash with water, lest they die. They shall wash their hands and their feet, lest they die: it shall be a statute for ever to them, even to him and to his descendants throughout their generations." (Exodus 30:17-21)
Washing was a symbol of purification for the Jews. They had many purification rituals which included various types of washing, most notably the ritual purification by immersion in the mikveh bath which Jesus elevated to sacramental status as baptism.
The word Apostle means one who is sent. Jesus was purifying the his new priests, ordaining them, commissioning them and sending them forth to minister in his new temple, the Church.
he says they can’t get to heaven if he doesn’t wash their feet…so it has to be about more than just humility
todd kinda answered it but i was wondering if anyone had any other insights
Its not that they can’t get to heaven if they don’t have their feet washed by Jesus, its that they have to obey Christ. If He says He’s going to wash your feet and you say no (like Peter did) then you are jeopardizing your salvation.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/a2/El_Lavatorio_(Tintoretto).jpg/800px-El_Lavatorio_(Tintoretto).jpg Completely off topic… what’s the purpose of the dog in the picture?
I hadn’t heard this before. The humility and service, yes but not the priesthood. I have heard the Last Supper as the institution of the priesthood, as is depicted in the Synoptics I and had wondered that there must be more than just the service aspect w/ John’s Gospel. John uses so much OT and weaves it with Christ. Thanks!!!
Haydock’s Commentary on John 13:10:
Ver. 10. He that is washed, &c. The feet are always apt to contract some dust or dirt; and in the mystical sense, he that is washed by the sacraments of baptism, or penance, from greater sins, must still endeavour to cleanse, and purify his affections from lesser failings of human frailty. And you, my apostles, are clean from greater offences, but not all of you, meaning the traitor Judas. (Witham) — It is impossible that the extremities of the soul (if we may be allowed the expression) should not, as long as we tread upon this earth, receive some stain or other; although in the opinion of men, the soul appear just. Many indeed after baptism, are covered with the dust of sin, even to the head, but those who are disciples indeed, need only to wash their feet. (Origen, tract. 32. in Joan.) — The foulness of the feet, when the rest is clean, signifies the earthly affections, and remains of former sins remitted, which are to be cleansed by devout acts of charity and humility. (St. Ambrose, lib. iii. de Sacram. chap. 1; St. Bernard, de cæn. Dom. ser. 1.) — Though his disciples were clean, still he washed their feet, comformably to that of the Apocalypse, chap. xxii. “He that is clean, let him be cleansed still.” (Origen, tract. 32. in Joan.) (source)