Jn 13: 1-15

Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself.

Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”

Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.” After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am.

So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Experiencing the Last Supper with the disciples

Today we probably cannot hear this Gospel as we normally would, at Mass as the Passion’s prologue. So, let us experience it with the disciples.  Imagine reclining at table when Jesus begins to wash the disciples’ feet. See it as they did, not as a prologue, but as continuing the recent past.

Recall five days ago, at Bethany, when Mary anointed Jesus’ feet and dried them with her hair.  How she slathered the security of a widow’s old age, a pound of nard, reverencing the master who had raised her brother from the dead.

Recall the next day, how the perfume persisted as Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem, how it dissipated but lingers still in memory as strong scents do.

Now watch Jesus follow Mary’s example and make it his own for us.

What disturbs Judas this time?  The lesson? The memory? Or is it Jesus reverencing us?

—Deacon Gerald Nora works as a hospital chaplain and gives spiritual direction at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House.


Soul of Christ, sanctify me
Body of Christ, save me
Blood of Christ, inebriate me
Water from the side of Christ, wash me
Passion of Christ, strengthen me
O good Jesus, hear me
Within thy wounds, hide me
From the wicked foe, defend me
At the hour of my death, call me
And bid me come to thee,
That with thy saints I may praise thee.

—Anima Christi