We will read in the Gospel on Holy Thursday, “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.” (John 13:1-10)
The thoughts for my homily are from Pope Benedict second book, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.” I will focus on Jesus words, “You are clean.” Pope Benedict writes purity is not something we can achieve by our own efforts. Purity is a gift of faith. It is faith in Jesus that makes us clean. This is the meaning of this verse, “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.”
Purity is not something we do, it is something that Jesus has to do for us. We have to allow Jesus to wash our feet. Jesus says, “Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over. Pope Benedict writes, “The complete bath that was taken for granted only only mean Baptism, by which man is immersed into Christ once and for all, acquired his new identity as one who dwells in Christ.” Baptism makes us clean. But the washing of the feet is a symbol of confession. Our feet touch the ground and we have daily need to be washed of those sins. Pope Benedict writes, “This fundamental event, by which we become Christians (Baptism the bath that makes us clean) not through our own doing doing but through the action of the Lord in his Church, cannot be repeated. Yet in the life of Christians- for table fellowship with the Lord- it constantly requires completion: ‘washing of the feet.'”
Peter allowed Jesus to wash his feet. Judas in his heart refused to allow Jesus to wash away the sin in his heart so his sin remained. We read in the Gospel, “One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was lying close to the breast of Jesus: so Simon Peter beckoned to him and said, ‘Tell us who it is of whom he speak.’ So lying thus close to the breast of Jesus, he said to him: ‘Lord, who is it?’ Jesus answered: ‘it is he of whom I shall give this morsel when I have dipped it.'”(John 13:23-26) Judas might have had his feet physically washed by Jesus but he didn’t allow Jesus to wash his heart from sin. Jesus says, “He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.” (Ps 41:9)
Are we like Peter or Judas? Do we have the humility to allow Jesus to wash our feet and hearts from sin? Every time we confess our sins we allow Jesus to wash our feet. We make our hearts a worthy dwelling place for the Lord in the Eucharist.