Then the Lord said to Moses: “Set up the tabernacle, the tent of meeting… the ark of the covenant law and shield it…Bring in the altar table… the lampstand and lamps…. Place the altar of incense in front… a basin of water… Anoint the basin and its stand and consecrate them.Bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance to the tent of meeting and wash them with water. Then dress Aaron in the sacred garments, anoint him and consecrate him so he may serve me as priest. Bring his sons and dress them in tunics. Anoint them just as you anointed their father, so they may serve me as priests. Their anointing will be to a priesthood that will continue throughout their generations.”  And Moses did everything just as the Lord commanded him.

n John 13:8 Jesus says that His apostles could not take “part” in Him any further unless they were washed. The Greek word for “part,” meros, echoes Numbers 18:20 and Deuteronomy 10:9 which refers to the “portion” (in Greek—meris).  Jesus says He has a portion to give to them of Him? What is it? It is of His priesthood, but that they must be washed ritually. It was in the same tradition in that Aaron and the Levites had in becoming priests for God.

In our modern liturgy, on the anniversary of the priesthood or Holy Orders given out to the apostles, this aspect of the foot-washing has been mostly forgotten. Yet Jesus did make the apostles priests at the Last Supper. In His farewell act before the Garden of Gethsename time and then arrest there, with Judas bringing guard soldiers and his kiss of betrayal, Jesus gathered for a major fulfillment and update on the Passover meal of the Jews: it would be the Passover anew to see Him conquer sin and death for us, and institute Holy Eucharist for us. Jesus the Priest takes a familiar sign of bread and wine, used with Abraham in the first covenant, while also familiar of the manna from the Mosaic deliverance, and Jesus presents Himself as the Holy Offering to be made for the whole, sinful human race. He will be the bread to eternal life, through His body to be broken and His blood poured out, coming soon at Calvary—but offered right here.

At an Upper Room, interestingly right over King David’s tomb spot in Jerusalem, Jesus gathers these men to be ambassador-style priests, as for representing Him, The High Priest Jesus, and commissions them to do something special, a final request of Him to be carried out into the future. He will be High Priest of Heaven for us next, upon His rising and ascending to God (as the book of Hebrews later describes out). Jesus commands the apostles to “do this remembrance of me.” The Greek verb for “do,” poieo, can be translated literally as “offer” in the sense of offering a sacrifice, as it is shown in Leviticus 9:7. Now, take this bread, to be Me, and take this wine, to be Me, of My Body and Blood, and offer sacrifice in My Name, and I shall be with you. “Offering” is a priestly function, or to “do this.” Poieo. Therefore, Jesus’ command to offer the Last Supper as a sacrifice tells us how Jesus made his apostles ministerial priests. His washed them for service, ritually in foot-washing, and gave them His Holy Orders. In less than 24 hours, Jesus was crucified at Calvary, just outside the old walls of Jerusalem, rejected by the rebellious world, left on a dung hill to a brutal physical death. It would be amazingly close by to where God made a covenant with Abraham to provide a worthy son of sacrifice, a Lamb of God Person, from Heaven. It was happening as in the plans of our eternal and loving God.

We remember this foremost tonight.

We have a gift shared by God’s Son via His priesthood, and victim sacrifice for eternal living remembrance. He gives a Sacrament Sign, not symbol, but Real Presence gift from that Upper Room and Mt. Calvary to us here in a Mass, and passed on via His high priesthood and Lamb of Sacrifice gift, as by the offering made by His ministerial priesthood, the same one given to apostle men and continued through time.

If a re-enanctment ritual of the foot-washing is carried out, optionally, then the priest doing a foot-washing is a sign of Christ, via His Holy Orders, to act as humble servant in doing so.  The same humility expected of “father” at altar is to be shown in his stooping in service like Christ.  Jesus said ‘the greatest is the least—He among you Who serves—that’s the measure.’

I have probably done the foot-washing ritual 25 times in church. It’s usually a difficult thing to get the right people for it, or enough ones for it, or to have it represent what the original one looked like.

What is the foot-washing stand for, in general? In stands for humble service. Besides when it is a ritual, what does it look like in everyday life?

I have thought of what foot-washing can be for the everyday disciple.  It’s not coming up to the sanctuary, grabbing a pitcher of water and replacing me on a Thursday in Spring.  It’s the person who has to wash their very elderly mother, and feed her, and carefully move her around and then to bed at night.  It’s the person who cares for the homeless each year in our shared Laurel ministry, or one who brings supplies or money for buying food or is here passing out groceries and gift cards out on varied Tuesday nights.  It’s the person who gives up their Monday nights to teach religious ed or the parents who get the youth here as a priority, so that the youth can be the blessed pure of heart or fed hungry for righteousness receiver of Catholic teaching.  It’s the person helping in a random situation for a stranger in need. It’s the person praying in private or family at home for a Christian witness to be made for God in this world, or for praying at our tabernacle or exposition times or Masses to Jesus the Eucharist to win the world via our own witness of love and faith made over Him.  It’s doing something for your parish or church, with which might take humility or personal concern for another.

That’s what I think of when I wash feet, for I am called in a priesthood to live the Gospel call and assist you to live it out authentically.

When I see people in front of me in Christian life, whose feet are to be ritually cleansed—I think of the verse that was first used of The Lord Messiah, but later to be lived in all His anointed ones.  Isaiah 52:7 “How beautiful upon the mountains*are the feet of the one bringing good news, Announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation, saying God is King. “  Yes! How lovely the feet of Catholics living their faith and taking it out in witness.  Even when faith is in decline, and the church rocks and reels from things, and the ungodly secular realm goes all brazen versus God.  Isaiah 52 people walk by faith with those blessed feet and with the lips they sing praise. Isa. 52:9-10 says: Break out together in song, even amid the ruins of Jerusalem! For the LORD has comforted his people, He has redeemed you. The LORD has bared his holy arm in the sight of all the nations; now all the ends of the earth can see the salvation of our God. Purify yourselves, you vessels of the Lord. For see! My servant shall prosper and shall be raised high and be greatly exalted!”

I am resolved, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to discharge without fail the office of priesthood in the presbyteral order as a conscientious fellow worker with the bishops in caring for the Lord’s flock… I am.resolved to celebrate the mysteries of Christ faithfully and religiously as the Church has handed them down to us for the glory of God and the sanctification of Christ’s people… I am resolved to hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience as the Apostle urges, and to proclaim this faith in word and action as it is taught by the Gospel and the Church’s tradition…    I am resolved to maintain and deepen a spirit of prayer appropriate to your way of life and, in keeping with what is required of you, to celebrate faithfully the liturgy of the hours for the Church and for the whole world… I am resolved to exercise the ministry of the word worthily and wisely, preaching the gospel and explaining the Catholic faith… I am resolved to consecrate my life to God for the salvation of his people, and to unite myself more closely every day to Christ the High Priest, who offered himself for us to the Father as a perfect sacrifice.  I am, with the help of God.Then he gets ordained. For me it was May 21st, 1988 by Archbishop Hickey at St. Matthew’s Cathedral.

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