Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.” - John 13:8
It was a beautiful image of the deepest humility ever witnessed. Jesus, the Eternal Son of God, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, was exercising the duty of a servant. One by one, Jesus went around and cleansed the feet of His disciples. It was the celebration of the Passover. A holy feast, a remembrance of God’s saving action to their ancestors the night they were set free from slavery in Egypt. However, this Passover “remembrance” was certainly one to be remembered, and embraced.
Peter was overwhelmed by Jesus’ humility and at first refused to have his Lord wash his feet. But Jesus says something that rings true for all eternity: “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.” This was no ordinary washing, it was not in reference only to the washing of Peter’s dirty feet, it was an eternal washing of his immortal soul, and the “water” would soon flow forth from the pierced and Sacred Heart of Jesus Himself.
Less than twenty-four hours later, Jesus would be on a cross, and a Roman soldier would pierce His heart with a lance. From His heart flowed blood and water, the new font of grace and mercy itself. This “Last Supper” with our Lord was the sacramental institution of the cleansing power of His one and perfect Sacrifice which is now made present to us throughout time in the gifts of Baptism, Confirmation and the Holy Eucharist.
Every time we renew our Baptism, receive His Spirit more deeply into our lives and consume His sacred Body and Blood, we participate in this cleansing action of Christ to Peter and the other disciples. Jesus looks at each one of us, with a gaze of love, and says, “Unless I wash you…” What is your response to our Lord?
It takes humility to accept the humblest act of mercy ever known. We must humbly acknowledge that we need our Lord to cleanse us, to wipe the dirt from our souls, to redeem us and to offer us the inheritance of everlasting life.
It is at that Last Supper, the beginning of the first Triduum of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday, that our Lord gazes through Peter to each one of us and offers to cleanse us of all sin. What is your response? How humble are you in your reception of this gift? How deeply do you believe in the saving Sacrifice of our divine Lord?
Reflect, this night, upon those sacred words of our Lord and hear them spoken to you: “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.” Say “Yes” to this offer of perfect humility and mercy from our Lord and let the saving Sacrifice of the Son of God enter more deeply into your life than ever before.
My merciful Lord, Your humility is awe-inspiring and overwhelming. Please wash me clean with the blood and water flowing forth from Your pierced Heart. Help me to receive this gift in the way it was given: with humility. I thank You, I say “Yes” to Your gift, I receive You and I invite You to cleanse me. I am a sinner, dear Lord. I need Your cleansing action in my life. Jesus, I trust in You.