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Discovering Life's Purpose (January 2009)
Thursday, January 01, 2009

In the Gospels, we find key passages that reveal the priorities in the Lord’s heart.  One such text is chapter 13 (vv. 1-15) of the Gospel of John. Jesus knows the time has come for him to accept the consequences of his way of life. It is time to make a gesture that will epitomize his whole existence, a gesture to sum up 33 years of love, a definitive expression of what he was: love, boundless love.


Suggestions for Prayer:
  1. Begin by reading the passage from John’s gospel and/or listening to it. When I finish, I ask God: “Lord, help me to feel your love for us so I may be able to serve those around I as you would have me do.”
  2. The first step in approaching the text is to imagine the Gospel scene and to make myself present to it, to feel I am part of the group of Jesus’ disciples. Together with other men and women, I belong to his circle of friends, those he loves without limit.
  3. The second step is to see what Jesus does. At this special moment with his friends he chooses to perform a symbolic act: Jesus rose from supper and took off his outer garments. Then he took a towel and tied it around his waist.” He pours water into a basin and takes on a job usually reserved for slaves, a ritual of welcome, of purification. When the time comes to show his infinitive love, Jesus washes the feet of the disciples. We see the Source of Life, he whom the universe cannot contain, the Almighty, becoming a servant. God kneels on the floor at our feet to serve us.

    The third step is to listen to what Jesus says: Unless I wash you, you will have no share with me. Authentic service starts when we accept that others may serve us. If we want to serve, first we must learn how to receive. When Jesus finishes washing his apostles’ feet, he asks them: Do you realize what I have done for you? . . . . 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. When we understand what Jesus has done and put it into practice, we will be happy.

Adapted from God in Exile, 2005.


Reflections for Prayer

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.


Suggested Reading for Prayer
John 13: 1-15

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. 


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.