After the Apostles prepare for the Passover in the Upper Room in Jerusalem, Christ gathers the Twelve after sunset for the celebration of Passover. Commanded by God (Ex 12), Jews annually remembered God’s deliverance from bondage in Egypt by eating a ritual meal which recalled the Night of the Passover; prayers were said, four cups of wine were ritually drank and a lamb sacrificed at the Temple was eaten along with bitter herbs. But rather than simply “keeping” the Passover, Christ divinely transforms it, establishing the Sacrament of the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

While Christ keeps the Passover, having all power from the Father, Christ divinely transforms it through the institution of the Eucharist, the transubstantiation of bread and wine into His Body and Blood (Matt 26:26-29). Prior to establishing the Eucharist, Christ institutes the Sacrament of Holy Orders, ordaining the Twelve Apostles into His Holy Priesthood; to offer the Eucharist, the Twelve must first become priests. Christ’s ritualistic washing of the Apostles’ feet is more than an example of humble love (“afterward, you will understand”), it confirms the 12 Apostles have the power of the priesthood; Christ’s act recalls Moses’ washing of the feet of Arron and his sons when they are consecrated priests (Lev 8:6) and the Levites (priestly class) receiving a “part”(John 13:8) from God (Num 18:20).

Christ’s washing of the Apostles’ feet is also a supreme example of humble love. Christ calls all men to follow His example of being a humble servant who loves others through self-sacrifice and service; Christ’s example is particularly critical for priests as He has specifically limited the foot washing to the Twelve. While Christ does wash Judas’ feet and allows Him to receive the Eucharist (Luke 22:21), He confirms His blessings will not be given to Judas (John 13:18).

1) Be awed by how Christ’s washing of His Apostle’s feet has become a universal sign of humble self-sacrifice and loving service which has inspired millions throughout the life of the Church.

2) Christ’s initiation of the Apostles into a new priesthood establishes the means for His Eucharist to be available to men in the Age of the Church. During Holy Week, recall Christ’s divine wisdom in the establishment of the Eucharist and the Priesthood (CCC 1406-1419) and give thanks that you can confidently receive Christ in the Catholic Mass.

3) Christ’s humble washing of the Apostle’s feet reveals the ignorance of today’s arrogant cult of self-puffery. During Holy Week, recommit to Imitate Christ (CCC 520, 1693-1696) and pray for Christ to help you find ways to imitate Him each day.