I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel. Genesis 3:15
I am doing a bible study on the Gospel of John. This past Saturday we were reading chapter 13, the chapter where Jesus washes the feet of the Apostles.
Many of the exchanges between Peter and Jesus crack me up. Peter is always trying so hard. Jesus seems to have to correct him a lot. Peter doesn’t quite see what Jesus wants him to see. It is Peter’s humiliation that ultimately makes him a good leader. A person who has been humbled tends to know what belongs to God and enables him to listen well to others.
In the exchange in chapter 13, we see Jesus prepare to wash the feet of the Apostles.
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.” John 13:6-7
Jesus recognizes that Peter does not understand. The exchange continues;
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.” John 13:8-11
One gets the sense here that Peter thinks what Jesus is about to do is beneath Jesus, but when Peter understands that Jesus knows what he is doing he wants more. Peter misunderstands the significance of the washing of only his feet.
Jesus speaks of the one being bathed not needing to wash. It seems to me Jesus is not referencing the fact that Peter took a bath that morning. Jesus must be referencing the soul of Peter being clean. For Peter has confessed straight to the Lord.
But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” Luke 5:8
And we can glean from this exchange that Jesus is not saying that Judas is stinky because he didn’t take a bath, but that Judas has an unclean soul.
For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “You are not all clean.” John 13:11
So we ask the question, why did Jesus wash their feet? Was it simply to show them how to be servants? They would have had dirty feet while walking, back in those days. Washing the feet is a kindness and something a servant would do. Is this the only message? Or is there something more?
We can come to understand that Jesus means something much more in this washing. Because later in the passage he states,
He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me. John 13:18
Judas partakes in the morsel with an unclean soul. Judas becomes possessed.
Then after the morsel, Satan entered into him. John 13:27
His heel will not be clean either, even if Jesus washes it. What is the significance of the heel/the feet?
For the other Apostles who were “clean”, Jesus has something much bigger.
Do you know what I have done to you? John 13:12
Jesus has instituted the Priesthood. Jesus has given them the Eucharist. Jesus has given them the power to crush the head of Satan. This is the significance of washing their feet. It isn’t but mere kindness of service, it is the making of Satan as their footstool, through the authority and sacraments that Christ has instituted.
The God of peace will shortly crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Romans 16:20
A Priest has such a magnificent duty to pursue virtue and to protect his flock. If he does so, he will see the glory and power of God. All things point back to the Priesthood and the Sacraments for our purification, for our ability to crush Satan and be delivered. We cannot do this without the church. We cannot do this without the Priests. Please pray for our Priests. This is why the Priesthood is so attacked.
This is also why, in these tumultuous times, we cannot abandon the barque of Peter; the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. We cannot abandon it even when we don’t understand, the same way that Peter didn’t understand. When our leaders disappoint us, when our senses can’t process what is happening. When we feel that all is lost, we must;
… stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter. 2 Thessolonians 1:15
Because God has a bigger plan that we don’t see. God is in charge. And God’s promises are true.
You are the Messiah,the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:16-19
Remember it is after Jesus proclaims Peter as the rock, that he calls him Satan;
And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” Matthew 16:22-23
And Jesus didn’t say, “oh never mind Peter, you’re not the guy because you’re worldly. I made a mistake.” Peter was still the rock. And God’s Divine Providence worked Peter’s weakness for good. A good that was so much better than any of them could have imagined.
Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it. John 14:12
And when Pentecost arrived, these men, these Apostles, they were on fire. They were no longer worldly, but had the Holy Spirit in them. They lived what was promised. They were divinized. God’s power was made perfect in their weaknesses. Peter is the rock.
When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. All the people saw him walking and praising God, and they recognized him as the one who used to sit and ask for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. Acts 3:3-10
Do you think it’s coincidence that one of the first miracles Peter performs after Pentecost is making a man’s feet strong? There are no coincidences with God.
What are human beings that you are mindful of them, or mortals, that you care for them? You have made them for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned them with glory and honor, subjecting all things under their feet.” Hebrews 2:6-8
Remember the ride for them to get there was extremely bumpy. They didn’t understand. They were threatened with death along the way. They were afraid. But they ultimately surrendered to God and trusted Him, even when it seemed impossible. Only one gave into despair, the one who was unclean. Stay steadfast and receive the sacraments of Confession and Eucharist sincerely and as often as you can so the sacramental grace can pour into you and God can fill you so as to crush Satan under your feet. Remember, God’s promises are true.
Keep your lamp lit and pray for Our Priests.
Susan, please never stop posting! Your insights are so encouraging and timely in these difficult times. God bless!
Thank you and God Bless you!
Susan, You are a gift! I love your writings! I’m the one who abruptly approached you after Mass last Sunday:) I’m from NY and was visiting TN. Loved it and love your parish! God Bless You!!
Wonderful!! It was so great to meet you. Sorry I couldn’t chat longer I had classes running I had to attend to.
God Bless you too.
Hope you had a good visit to Tennessee!
Thank you Susan. So many times I feel so confused about what is going on in the church today. Having come into the Catholic faith only four years ago, I am still learning. I feel like Peter most of the time in his early walk with Christ. Having experienced the truth of our Faith, all I know is that I cannot EVER abandon what I know is the truth. The truth has changed me forever. I fall and I fail. But I know Jesus is always there in the confessional with me, and His blood runs through my veins when I receive the Eucharist. It is posts like this that edify me when I struggle. God bless you always.
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