Episode 27 – John 13 – Jesus: The Servant of Love part 1
“Chapter 13 of the Gospel of John marks the end of the Book of Signs and the beginning of the Book of Glory. The hour of glory—the hour of the crucifixion—has started.
Chapters 13-16 are an extended discourse by Jesus, who is preparing his disciples for his exodus, his departure from this world back to his heavenly Father. The washing of the disciples’ feet is laden with nuptial imagery, a theme that runs throughout the entire Bible.
Beginning with Adam and Eve, the story of salvation is the story of the marriage between God and His people. God entered into a spiritual marriage with Adam and Eve, but this perfect union was shattered by original sin. But through our bodily nature, God has given us a glimpse into the image of the trinity. As John Paul II states in his Theology of the Body, “only the body is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and the divine. It has been created to transfer into the visible reality of the world, the mystery hidden from eternity in God, and thus to be a sign of it.” The eternal mystery is the union of the three persons of the Trinity. Man’s spiritual union with God, fractured by sin, is restored at the crucifixion, the wedding celebration of Christ and His Church.
Mary is the perfect model of spiritual marriage with Christ. She and John the Evangelist stayed in communion with Jesus as he hung on the cross. The message for us is to stay in communion with God and with each other, avoiding the temptation to run away from the messy crosses of our lives. Over the years, a number of saints have experienced a spiritual marriage with Jesus, and Sharon tells us the story of Catherine of Siena who suffered from the invisible stigmata in her union with Christ.
Turning back to the foot-washing, Sharon shows us the spiritual meaning of this story. Before a wedding, the bride must be blemish-free, washed free of the stain of sin. Baptism cleanses us from original sin, while reconciliation removes the filth of all other sin in our lives. When Jesus washes the feet of the apostles, he is spiritually washing away the guilt of sin, prefiguring the sacrament of reconciliation, “that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish (Eph 5:27).” Stripping down to his linen ephod, Jesus performs the intimate, yet priestly ritual of washing the apostles’ feet, preparing them to enter into the spiritual union of the crucifixion and to become the first priests of a new priesthood of which he is the Eternal High Priest. ”
Sharon Doran serves as the teaching director of “Seeking Truth.” An experienced Bible Study teacher, Sharon has a passion for scripture that will motivate and challenge you to immerse yourself in God’s Word and apply His message to your everyday life.
For more in this series visit the Seeking Truth with Sharon Doran Discerning Hearts page
“Seeking Truth” is an in-depth Catholic Bible Study, commissioned by the Archdiocese of Omaha in response to John Paul II’s call to the New Evangelization as well as Pope Benedict XVI’s exhortation for all Catholics to study scripture. To learn more go to www.seekingtruth.net