THE WASHING OF THE FEET
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
St. Thomas Aquinas