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Water is the figure of the salvific work of Christ. The feet are a figure of an advanced spiritual state which the apostles had attained after living and learning from Christ. And yet they still needed the washing of the feet.

The apostles, like the just, had his uncleanness. . .but only in the feet.

Others are dirty all over. . .they are those who have made their beds upon the soiling attractions of the world. With their senses and their wills, they cleave to their earthly desires. These are wholly unclean. They are lying down on the soil of worldliness; while the apostles are said to be standing up, thus, merely dirtying their feet alone.

Those standing up have their minds and hearts on the things of heaven. Because they are still in the world and must be engaged with the world for their needs, they are said to dirty their feet, while the worldly are lying down on dirt.

From the Last Supper, it was clear that the salvific work of Christ could only wash the feet, but not the whole body. Thus, Peter and the rest were clean after the washing. . .but not all, because Judas was dirty all over, so Christ could not clean him.

In the work of salvation, there is man's part and there is God's part. Man's part is to raise his mind and heart to heavenly things and not to the things of the world. God's part is that He washes our feet clean.

The towel is His Body, the water is His Blood. The dirt is whatever affection for earthly things that remains.

St. Thomas Aquinas







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