Thursday, 1 April 2010

Washing of feet.

This week, many churches re-enact the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet before the Last Supper. The priest washes the feet of 12 people representing the disciples. You can bet that the chosen 12 have ensured that their feet, (or foot, because usually one foot is washed to speed the whole procedure), are/is as clean as could be, to avoid embarrassment during the re-enactment.

At the time of Jesus, however, things were different. Streets were not as modern and clean as they are now in our towns and cities. They were dusty, muddy if it rained, and no doubt full of deposits from horses, camels and cattle. People wore sandals or even walked in bare feet.

So when they entered a house as guests washing their feet must have been an essential task rather than the symbolism it is in today’s churches. A task left to the servants to undertake.

When Jesus offered, insisted even, in washing His disciples’ feet He was teaching them, and us, a very important lesson.

Here is God Himself, born in poverty, raised in poverty, living in poverty, submitting Himself to perform a task reserved for servants.

Perhaps the disciples didn’t understand the significance of what Jesus had just done. Maybe we don’t understand it ourselves right now.

Yet, He was preparing for an even greater submission and humiliation for us.

Dying a most horrible and painful death on the Cross.

Just for us.


  1. I never knew that about the washing of feet Victor. To be honest, I didn't understand what it was all about but you have linked it to the rest of Christ's life, and shown that this action was just another example and witness to His beautiful humility.

  2. Hi Shadowlands,

    It's nice to see you visiting here again.

    Here God is teaching us humility by example. He came on earth not as a Ruling King but as a servant dying for all of us.

    God bless you Shadowlands.

  3. The first paragraph made me laugh because I can imagine everyone running around scrubbing their feet, trimming toenails and the like just in case they got picked ;) The rest of the post touched my heart. Imagine the King of Kings washing the disciples feet and later stretching His arms out on the cross for us. It makes me weep. The great I AM serving us and dying for us. It puts me beyond words. Thank you, Victor, this was another amazing post.

  4. As we're approaching Easter it's good to think on these things. Jesus is God, yet in the Bible account you're talking about He not only was willing to take on human limitations and come to earth but here He was taking on a servant's role. Makes me reflect on my own life; do I choose to serve or try to make life revolve around me?

  5. Hi Mary,

    I've just returned from church; and in our church we usually select 12 young children preparing for First Communion to wash their feet. The priest just washes one foot whilst someone reads the Gospel. Today, to my surprise, the priest washed his hands afterwards with a spirit wipe. I bet Jesus never did that.

    He was humiliated all the way to death on the Cross.

    Hello Tracy,

    You're so right. God took on the role of a servant just to serve us. That's what I found so striking in today's Gospel in church.

    God bless you Mary and Tracy.

  6. Really? He used a wipe to wash his hands after? I've never seen a priest do that. The priest washes adult feet at our church. I have a feeling it's not his favorite job, he hates germs :)

  7. Yes Mary ... I've never seen a priest do this before. It made me a little angry ... which is not how one should feel in church.

    Jesus humbled Himself and washed His disciples feet and here we have a priest cleansing his hands with spirit.

    Dear Lord forgive me!

    Bless you Mary.

  8. Great post! I just got home from Mass. In Father's homily, he talked about Jesus as God humbling himself to wash the disciples' feet. I of course knew that. But then to really hear it put that way - God was washing their feet. And He washes our feet too. Wow. Goes right along with your post here.
    God bless!

  9. Oh Victor how could a priest be insensitive, it takes away the whole lesson of humility.
    Happy Easter my friend......:-) Hugs

  10. Hello Colleen and Bernie,

    God humbles Himself many times for us. That's called love.

    I have thought a lot about our priest washing his hands with a spirit wipe. I think I'll pray for him.

    Thank you Colleen and Bernie for visiting me again. May God bless you always. Happy Easter.

  11. I always find the liturgy on Holy Thursday profoundly moving and this year,for some reason, even more so. In our parish the priest washes the feet of 12 people - a mixture of adults and Confirmandi - and not a wipe in sight, I'm pleased to say, although he does wash his hands in the usual way afterwards. He is going to be continuing with the Mass afterwards after all.

  12. Hi Miss Ellen,

    Something else amusing happened today. I've just come back from church for Stations of the Cross. At the end of the Stations this same priest said a short prayer followed by the blessing. At that point a lady up-front raised her hand and asked: "Can we sing When I survey the wondrous Cross Father?"

    He replied: "Yes, you sing it." And he left the altar, went to the Sacristy and shut the door behind him.

    I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

    God bless you Miss Ellen. Happy Easter.

  13. At our parish, anyone who wants to have their feet washed can come to one of the stations set up in front and have their feet washed by one of our priests or parish staff members. A few years ago, my kids begged me to go, so I summoned up the courage and went. After Father washed my feet, he kissed them! Took me completely by surprise and kept me from ever getting my feet washed at Mass again. It was a very loving and moving thing to do, but just not for me, I guess.

    Yet, after reading about the behavior of your priest, I am very grateful for my kind pastor.

  14. Hello Anne,

    That was indeed a very nice gesture from your priest. I must say I was quite amazed at our priest using a spirit wipe yesterday, and today telling that lady to sing the hymn herself and walking off.

    Have a nice Easter Anne. God bless you.

  15. I've only participated in foot washing a handful of times. As a child and teenager, I found it awkward and distasteful--both washing another person's feet and having my own feet washed. But I did it again about a year ago, and it was profoundly moving. I found myself weeping as I pictured Jesus doing the same thing for his disciples. Like you said, our feet were so clean to begin with, but it must have been much less "romantic" in Jesus' day.

  16. Hi Sarah,

    You're so right. When Jesus washed His disciples' feet He was in effect doing a servant's job. No wonder Peter objected. Here is His Lord and Master bending down on the floor to wash his feet.

    God bless you Sarah. Have a nice Easter with your family.

  17. I love the washing of the feet. It is the ultermate servant act of love.
    Jesus gave us the example to follow. Thank you for sharing Victor.
    Blessings. Crystal

  18. You're so right Crystal Mary. He taught us to serve each other with love and humility.

    God bless.



God bless you.