"Do You Understand?"(John 13:12-18)
“When he had washed their feet and put on his clothes again he went back to the table. 'Do you understand' he said 'what I have done to you?’” (Jn 13:12)
Christ’s Chosen Ones were only beginning to understand. Having just been washed by the Tender Fingers of God, they were drawn onto the precipice of a New Horizon. How could they be expected to understand the Heart of God? Why did Jesus wash their filthy feet? Not because they were dirty, but because he wanted to rip them out of an unexamined reality. He wanted to open their eyes to his Father’s Mission to Love. So it was, that he took on the position of a slave, to give them a glimpse into a Kingdom not enslaved to Self, but enslaved to Love.
“You call me Master and Lord, and rightly; so I am.” (Jn 13:13)
In order to grasp the magnitude of what had just taken place, the apostles needed to believe in the title with which they addressed Jesus. Jesus, Master of all Powers seen and unseen, Lord of all Creation, submitted to the humblest of actions to reveal his Love. The Greatest became the Smallest; the Creator kissed the creature. (Jn 13:13)
“If I, then, the Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you should wash each other's feet.” (Jn 13:14)
God is calling Man to become Godly. He is charging his disciples to a life of Love; to raise the lowly with the power of Lowliness; to see the Sinner as Beloved; to be an instrument for God.
“Now that you know this, happiness will be yours if you behave accordingly.” (Jn 13:17)
This is an audacious promise, or, a Vision Revealed. What is this secret knowledge; what is the “this” that is the key to happiness? It is behavior according to Jesus –to be a lover for the Source Of All Love. This is his Word of Truth waiting to be unwrapped in faith. It is our commission to act in his Name: our co-mission with Jesus.
“I am not speaking about all of you: I know the ones I have chosen; but what scripture says must be fulfilled: Someone who shares my table rebels against me.” (Jn 13:18)
This verse is packed with meaning. If we read it with our eyes wide open our hearts will bleed, so let us pray not to close our mind to its Truth. Jesus is saying that not all of his Chosen Ones choose him in return. He is speaking of Judas, the Son of Perdition; and he portrays him as “Someone who shares my table [and] rebels against me.”
Jesus knew Judas with all his flaws, but that did not stop him from choosing him. He still loved him, still trusted him with his confidence –in spite of knowing that he would rebel against him and hand him over to death. How easy it is to loath Judas, to be enraged by this one who exchanged his Master’s Love for selfish gain. But, Jesus washed his feet.
And what about us? Do we not share his table? Do we not eat his Body and drink his Blood, yet rebel against him? Does not Jesus know us whom he has chosen? But, he washes us clean and entrusts us to love with his Love. Do we understand the immensity of is Love for us? Do we understand the stupidity and smallness of our rebellion; or the price of our sin?
“I know the ones I have chosen…” The power in this Word is not that Jesus knows the identity of who he has chosen, for, in Truth, he has chosen every one of us. The miracle in this Word is that he knows the smallness of our hearts and still continues to choose us to serve in his Name. He believes in us when we do not believe in him. He trusts us to love for him when we do not trust in his Love for us. How can I remain a chosen son of God while in my heart I am yet a Son of Perdition?
How did the Eleven become so different from the Judas they so resembled? Did they not argue among themselves for self gain? Doubt their Master? Abandon him? Deny him? What held off the fate they deserved? Surely it is because they found Forgiveness. They were so transformed by the Unchangeable Love of their Master that they became abhorrent to any thought or action that did not bring him pleasure. Being washed in his Love, they found the faith to behave according his Will.
This Undeserving Love of Jesus is beyond my grasp. I cannot understand this Love; I can only Believe in it -because my Master has told me so. And I can Hope in it; that I will become what he sees in me -the son of his Father, his chosen brother. And if I too remain in his Love, then it will pour forth from me and wash the feet of his world; and I may ever grow into a faithful servant, freed from the smallness of my heart.