APRIL 1. HOLY WEEK. HOLY THURSDAY. JN. 13. 1-15
John 13:1-15 APRIL 1. HOLY THURSDAY.
It was before the festival of the Passover, and Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to pass from this world to the Father. He had always loved those who were his in the world, but now he showed how perfect his love was.
They were at supper, and the devil had already put it into the mind of Judas Iscariot son of Simon, to betray him. Jesus knew that the Father had put everything into his hands, and that he had come from God and was returning to God, and he got up from table, removed his outer garment and, taking a towel, wrapped it round his waist; he then poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel he was wearing. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ Jesus answered, ‘At the moment you do not know what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ ‘Never!’ said Peter ‘You shall never wash my feet.’ Jesus replied, ‘If I do not wash you, you can have nothing in common with me.’ ‘Then, Lord,’ said Simon Peter ‘not only my feet, but my hands and my head as well!’ Jesus said, ‘No one who has taken a bath needs washing, he is clean all over. You too are clean, though not all of you are.’ He knew who was going to betray him, that was why he said, ‘though not all of you are.’
When he had washed their feet and put on his clothes again he went back to the table. ‘Do you understand’ he said ‘what I have done to you? You call me Master and Lord, and rightly; so I am. If I, then, the Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you should wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example so that you may copy what I have done to you.’
It is very easy to lose sight of the purpose of Christ becoming a man; - living with us for thirty-three years, and then dying on a Cross. It was to Redeem us, a fact I think we readily accept; - but it was also to Teach us and; - on Holy Thursday (and Good Friday) we are witnessing one of his most potent lessons; - That Love demands humility and self-sacrifice!
This key teaching, which is not easy to live out, involves putting the needs of others before our own needs and desires! Today and tomorrow Christ is focused solely on teaching us what is involved in his Great Commandment of Love; - and the fact it demands both humility and self-sacrifice; - a truth he bore witness to in a spectacular fashion by the washing of the feet!
Peter certainly had great difficulty understanding the lesson as is made known by his response; - ‘You shall never wash my feet’; - but Christ was insistent; - ‘If I do not wash you, you can have nothing in common with me’; - making it very clear this lesson needed to be both understood and practiced if one was to be one of his followers.
And when he had finished washing the feet of his disciples Christ emphasised this lesson; - ‘Do you understand’ he said ‘what I have done to you? You call me Master and Lord, and rightly; so. If I, then, the Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you should wash each other’s feet; - I have given you an example so that you may copy what I have done to you.’
And we must not overlook the other powerful lesson in Love, Humility and Self-sacrifice we were given on this night; - when Christ gave us the Sacrament of the Eucharist; - not only as a memorial of his imminent Sacrifice on the Cross; - but also as a means of remaining with us on earth; - in the form of nourishing food; - until the end of time.
The lessons of Holy Thursday; - Love Humility and Self-Sacrifice, are ones we need to live out!