GOSPEL REFLECTION: Evening Mass Of The Lord’s Supper
The Washing Of The Disciples’ Feet
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
GOSPEL: JOHN 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.”
We are now at the height of our spiritual journey as we reflect deeply on the Paschal Mystery i.e. the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ. The Liturgy of today takes us on that particular night when our Lord Jesus was about to be betrayed by someone whom he regarded a friend and or a brother. I wonder what’s going on in Jesus’ mind. There must be deep-seated loneliness as the betrayal was coming from a someone dear to him.
Have you ever been betrayed? How does it feel like to be betrayed? Someone describe the feeling like a horrible burning sensation in the chest ready to explode. Considering the fact that betrayal could only be done by someone close to you, someone whom you trust like a family member, a friend, a husband, a wife, or a colleague. The harm done by someone not related to you is not betrayal. Only a someone you personally know, a person you trust or a person you love can betray you. You felt betrayed when someone you trusted stabbed you in the back or lied to. Betrayal occurs in a relationship when someone cheats, lies, hurts and abuses you. Therefore, by the mere fact that the harm was done by someone dear to you, the hurt could be that deep. Betrayal cuts like a double-edged knife.
Jesus was betrayed by one of His own. For a period of about three years, Jesus was with his disciples. He ate with them, slept with them, did the ministry of preaching and healing. During those years they came to know each other. Yet one of them – Judas – betrayed him. Jesus knew it. He had predicted the betrayal already in the past, and that night was different from other nights. For that’s the night when betrayal was to be unfolded. Judas had already arranged a plot with the authority. He sold our Lord for thirty pieces of silver.
But how did our Lord react to this? Did He plot something to stop it? Did he think of something and even plan something to exact some measure of revenge? No! Jesus was at peace …all there is in his heart is to do the will of the Father. At the Last Supper, we see Jesus’ humility and service. He did not wallow in despair and anger. He wasn’t even thinking of himself. He was thinking of his disciples, preparing them for a very imminent event i.e. his suffering and death. Yet at that moment of trials, he was even able to wash their feet with humility and love. And on top of it all…that very night, he instituted a wonderful Sacrament of the Eucharist. The Eucharist has become a sign of God’s Sacrifice, His immense Mercy and Forgiveness, and His saving act. On the night of His betrayal, therefore, Jesus reconciled with us, He offered us forgiveness and even gave us himself in the institution of the Eucharist.
Now we are friends again with Jesus. We’ve been reconciled. Our identity is that we are God’s children. Being God’s children, however, requires responsibility i.e. to always heed his call. It’s a call to serve and to Love. Have you ever wondered why Holy Thursday is also called Maundy Thursday? Where did the word Maundy come from? The word Maundy comes from the Latin word “mandatum” which literally means “Commandment” or a mandate (an order). On Holy Thursday, therefore, Jesus gave us that commandment to Love – “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34) This he showed us not only by mere words but he gave us an example of perfect love and service when he washed his disciples’ feet. He is Lord but he is not afraid to serve. By such gesture, we are reminded to serve as Jesus served and to love as Jesus loved. Jesus will, in turn, say “by this, they will know you are my disciples.”
“For I have set you an example, that you also do as I have done to you.”