He Began to Wash His Disciples’ Feet

Holy Thursday

Throughout Lent, we’re sharing excerpts from Lenten Grace, an inspiring journey through the season’s Gospel readings. Check back tomorrow for Good Friday’s reading. Also, you can get this entire six-volume series of daily Gospel reflections at 20% off.  Get it now.

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John 13:1–5


“[Jesus] began to wash his disciples’ feet.”

For three years these twelve followers of Jesus had listened to him preach, watched him heal and raise the dead, felt his power as he forgave sins. But now Jesus was doing something unexpected. Evening meals had been times of camaraderie and conversation, discussion and sharing. Tonight, however, Jesus was coming uncomfortably close. The conversation died down as Jesus knelt and tenderly washed and dried their feet. In this act, at this moment, Jesus seemed to say, “Everything that has gone before has been a preparation for this. Knowledge, information, and moral conversion are not enough.” He broke through all their inner barriers with this act of gently washing their feet. And he got their attention!

Imagine washing the feet of family members, friends, employees, employers, or enemies. It is an uncomfortable thought because it is so physical and so intimate. We often treat each other like shoe salesclerks. We’ll help others fit their shoes, but we’ll rub our noses as we do so, sit as far away as we can, and stay with them only as long as necessary. (And please keep your socks on.) Instead, Jesus is calling us to relate to one another as hospice nurses washing a terminally ill patient. What tenderness, gentleness, and acceptance there is on the part of nurse and patient in this act of vulnerability!

As Jesus knelt before his chosen apostles, he said that with this act of physical contact: “I know you. I know all about you, and I love you. I will keep on loving you.” It is difficult to believe that Jesus can know us and love us. It is even more difficult for us to know another and love that person.

Perhaps that is why Jesus continues to sustain this prolonged personal contact in the Eucharist. As the Last Supper, the Eucharistic Celebration is about familial, human, essential things, where we too are touched, held, and washed by Jesus in very intimate ways.


Jesus, wash from me the leprosy of self-hate. Wash me again and again until I can love myself because you have loved me, loved me enough to give your life for mine. When I receive you in the Eucharist, it is easy to be distracted or bored. Jesus! Impress on me how close you are at this precious moment. Break through my inner barriers with your intimate personal presence. Amen.


You know me and you love me.


Download Lenten Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections to guide you throughout this lenten season. You can get this entire six-volume series of daily Gospel reflections for 20% off. Get it now.

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  • Your hi-liting this series is helpful to make me realize the asset Verbum is for me. I didn’t know this was in my library. I suggest a new series or book every 3 or 4 weeks be introduced from my library in this fashion. This would be in addition to the regular marketing emails from you for books I may not have. Blessings this Easter Triduum. Fr Jim

    • Thank you for the feedback Fr. Jim! I had a similar experience back in Advent with the “Advent Grace” book in Verbum. I’d been looking for a way to introduce Lectio Divina to my two young boys–and this was the perfect resource to do it.

      The Daughters of St. Paul, the authors of the reflections, are a beautiful active/contemplative order of nuns that really live an active balance of an active and contemplative life. I’ve gotten to know several of them personally and they are the real deal!

  • This is beautiful and inspirational. Thank you so much for making this Lenten Season a grace-filled event through these beautiful reflections and prayer points in Oratio and Contemplatio.????????

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