There was a different kind of washing
just the night before.
As we know, on the eve of his death,
our Lord washed the feet of his disciples–
a most unexpected gesture
that relayed a message completely opposite to
what Pilate’s hand-washing signalled.

Read the following account
of the Washing of the Feet,
taking note of the explicit reactions of Peter,
but also–as you read between the lines–
the undocumented reactions of the others
who were present, and whose feet
were also going to be washed.

Play this instrumental music
to set the pace of your reading.

What would be your best inference
about the reactions of the others
around Peter and Jesus?

You may post your guesses below.


Painting: Ford Madox Brown
Music: Arnel Aquino SJ “Hide Not Your Face”

72 replies on “WASHING OF THE FEET”

They must have been uncomfortable or even scandalized. What Jesus did was radical, as He usually is, to show that a relationship of Love that God wants to have with us, and wants us to have with each other, is not one of domination and submission. Rather, it is of love, service, and encounter in our most vulnerable times. I imagine they must have been moved once they realized what Jesus was giving them.

Our feet get soiled. In those days they did not wear cotton socks. Thus it was easy to dirty the feet wearing only sandals. Washing of feet is seen as a task before entering a clean room or bed for rest. Therefore Jesus started this tradition as a symbol of brotherly or fraternal accommodation and overlooking the blemishes and dirt if not sins of the clergy. This symbolises our struggle to forgive one another’s faults. Priests will be against priests and bishops among themselves. When this happens Jesus is put aside rather than at the center of vocation, this the faithful must pray for Jesus’ voice and good example to prevail.

Some disciples maybe encouraged to do the same of what Peter is asking from our Lord Jesus.

Just a thought..

they would definitely be embarrassed. the feet are usually the most neglected and some times dirtiest part of the body so it would be too humiliating for Jesus their teacher to wash, let alone see it. I think Peter’s reaction was recognizing that not only was his feet dirty but that his hands and head as well. The disciples must have chuckled at his this request, but knowing Peter, this only reflects his eagerness to follow Christ. I feel that in one way it was also Jesus’ reminder to them to be humble enough to receive each other, especially in calling out one another if needed as not all of us are clean (at all times). Others need to wash our feet for us when we have gone astray or have experienced difficulties from our journey.

It is all about selflessness and the absence of pride that he “lowered” himself to act and become their servant. It is Jesus’ way of showing that in order to live, we must empty ourselves of our pride or whatever gets in the way of goodness. To be like him, we must live ourselves for others by serving them with a humble heart.

Washing feet was symbolic. Jesus was trying to address his disciples about his teaching and remind them to follow his footsteps and spread he goodness and values for the better part of mankind.

Isn’t that washing the feet is the lowest menial job? And ot is done by the household help. But doing it is a great service to your master. Uour mother washes her children in their youth. Nurses and attendants clean theit patients. This is literal washing of the feet. Higher degrer of service to uour neighbor is best exemplifiedby frotliners in our midst now- in hospitals, in jiuseholds, supermarkets, etc. The best model of service to neighbor without doubt is Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Wonder. Cautious. Intimacy

Wonder on what Jesus is doing – why he needs to do it? What does he want to tell us, his friends?

They must have felt cautious of the Jesus’ washing. this make me feel that I will not wait for him but wash my own feet and would not allow Jesus to wash it. But then, they must have been paying attention to what are his words and responses to Peter.

Intimacy, this is how they must have felt about Jesus as he washes their feet. Washing my feet meant I have a part in Jesus – that He holds me dearly and I am special place in his life.

I always wondered how intimate and friendly Jesus had been with the disciples. It just seems to me that except for a few instances, Jesus did not display much emotional vulnerability towards them.

I think the disciples would have been stunned at first, then relieved it was not their feet Jesus washed, then I think they would also have snickerered and teased Peter a little, then laughed when Peter said, don’t just wash my feet, but the rest of me as well. Then I think they would have been in awe, watching Jesus wash Peter’s feet, felt a little envious, then felt scared by this gesture.

Definitely surprised. At the same time, while not knowing exactly how Jesus would be betrayed, the apostles were confused as to where He was coming from, who would betray Him, and in what way any one of them could possibly betray Jesus.

The disciples definitely felt surprised with Jesus’ gesture, but after He has explained what He has done to Peter, I am sure that the other disciples still has doubts, but are willing to take on the task that Jesus had told them to do.

Judas was there and he was one of those whose feet Jesus washed. Jesus could have chosen not to wash Judas’ feet knowing that he will betray him. But Jesus did! For Jesus, it must have been tormenting to kneel, wash, kiss and put perfume (as other Gospel accounts would say) on Judas’ feet. Each moment, a moment to say no. But still he did!
I wonder what sorcery the devil must have done to Judas for him not to feel guilty or shameful during this time. He was probably not himself. For Judas, each moment was also a moment to say no to the betrayal. But still he did! Was it his pride? Did he fear his life also? The Pharisees must have threatened him if he did not follow through with the act.
As despicable his actions may seem, Judas had an important role to play in this story of redemption. The betrayal had to happen for the rest of the story to unfold, as gruesome and as sorrowful it was. Applying this to the present, this COVID pandemic, this ECQ, these uncertainties have to happen for the rest of our story to unfold. I hope it is a story of redemption.

First, I think they were amused by Jesus’ remarks. Who in the earth would expect their teacher to wash their feet for them? to cleanse them of their impurities? Secondly, they felt ashamed. They couldn’t turn down this offer. Thirdly, some might have taken this as an opportunity to do ill as they were shown how easy one person can be cleansed of his sins.

If I were one of the apostles, I probably would have felt embarrassed that my Lord and Master would be washing my dirty feet. I would have been reluctant to offer him my unsightly feet that have collected the dust and mud of the places we had been to.

The apostles should have been surprised, because the washing of the feet was only done by the lowliest of servants. Jesus have told them before that greatest of all must be the servant of all, and He gave them a prime example when He washed their feet.

On Jesus washing their feet: they may be surprised and somehow disturbed?
On Jesus and Peter’s discourse: they may be sternly observing Peter and his questions, but at the same time learning from his and Jesus’ answer

They are as obedient as any student to a teacher, much more, from a Lord. Upon hearing Peter, they might have questions in their minds… what does He mean, but they couldn’t ask.

Sometimes, we, too, would not want to be touched. I assume, they, too, because the Master will wash their feet – a task for a servant. However, they humbled themselves and let Jesus wash their feet, even if they were so uncomfortable. They had and want to abide His will.

They might be equally puzzled but dared not ask or refuse… disbelief in the sight of their Master washing Peter’s feet… and thinking too… “will he really wash mine too..?”

I am a teacher. When we teach something new, we know that the best way to teach it so that students will understand and remember is when we demonstrate it. When we teach through experience, the learning is deeper and more meaningful. Students may not understand initially, just like the disciples in this story. It may take time for them to understand. But Jesus was teaching them something important. Something they needed to learn and know especially after He joins His Father in heaven.

In a word, humility.

Peter who would easily put Jesus on a pedestal, might have been implying that washing his feet was beneath Jesus. But Jesus said that if he were to continue with that perception then he would not be a part of him.

Leading to his saying that you should do to each other what I have done for you. That we should take care of each other with humility so that we would not limit ourselves by the pride that sometimes gets in the way.

Teaching by example can be more effective. And learning by experience (as on the part of Peter) can even be more impactful, profound and lasting.

If Jesus is The Word, then he has set this example for all of us to follow – servant leadership. Easy to say, hard to do. For those who serve us, how easy will it be to wash their feet, when we are all guilty of the sin of pride? Oh Lord, send me a humble heart to treat all who the world deems beneath me with dignity, generosity and unconditional love – as you did on that night you washed the disciples’ feet. Teach me to be generous and not count the cost.

The other disciples must have been speechless as Jesus’ gesture to Peter. They must’ve been ashamed and embarrassed because they knew their feet are dirty and Jesus will wash it anyway.

Here i wanted to share a wild guess. Maybe Jesus know that someone will wash his hands to strip off himself of his responsibility of a decision he was about to make. Therefore Jesus who always seem to make right whatever is wrong and making emphasis on “he who is clean do not need to wash except his feet” has opened my eyes to know that Pilate who represents the majority of the crowd was among the dirty. Thus needed to be cleaned through the precious blood of Jesus Christ. I, among those who are unclean is the reason why He came and in His 2nd coming may He see us already clean as we clean each others’ feet. Amen.

Here i wanted to share a wild guess. Maybe Jesus know that someone will wash his hands to strip off himself of his responsibility of a decision he was about to make. Therefore Jesus who always seem to make right whatever is wrong and making emphasis on “he who is clean do not need to wash except his feet” has opened my eyes to know that Pilate who represents the majority of the crowd was among the dirty. Thus needed to be cleaned through the precious blood of Jesus Christ. I, among those who are unclean is the reason why He came and in His 2nd coming may He see us already clean as we clean each others’ feet. Amen.

To Jesus it is love for Peter like mother who washes her child. The main purpose is for cleansing but with love specially if he knows that he will be gone for a while.
To Peter it is admiration like an employee to employer. The main reason is Jesus got Peter’s back, an assurance that He will do all things for him.

The apostles would have been surprised, even shocked, at what Jesus was doing. Wasn’t He their leader, their teacher? Why would He stoop so low as to clean their feet?

Jesus’ act of Washing the deciples’ feet is also symbolic of Jesus being humble, approachable & most of all merciful. That :Us being human with Sin, no matter how “dirty/ unclean ” we are – Jesus is always willing to Forgive us & wash us clean of our sins~ we should Never be ashamed to run back to HIM because he will never refuse us – that is how much He loves us!!!

I feel like they all felt that they were unworthy of Jesus doing so to them. They were all surprised upon witnessing such act.

Probably they are wondering why or surprised? Maybe some were also hesitant just like Peter but choose not to say anything…or probably some just let Jesus do it as a sign of submission or following orders?

The disciples are probably curious why Jesus is doing it and also embarrassed that Jesus will be doing the same to them. But at the same time, they would probably also feel honored, considering that all of them look up to Him.

At first, unable to comprehend what was happening and what Jesus, our Lord, intends to accomplish by washing the disciples’ feet. But when Peter had the courage to ask, feeling embarrassed that the Lord will wash his feet, Jesus revealed to the disciples what it means to lead and to follow his footsteps. Jesus set the example of servant leadership — full of humility, strong sense of responsibility, accepting of accountability and unconditional service.

I think washing the feet of His apostles was Jesus’ supreme act of humility thus teaching them to be so. And showing his apostles that humility does not strip us of honor but elevates us in God’s eyes.

In all honesty, if I were in the place of one of the disciples, my knee-jerk reaction (assuming I understood what Jesus meant), would be horror, shock, and some disgust. I would initially find it difficult in my heart to genuinely be humble of heart before other people and serve them. I feel it would be so against my sinful nature to let go of my ego. I imagine it would be easier to serve Jesus because I already know that Jesus is someone whom I should regard with utmost respect and gentleness, just in case Jesus, who I know now is God, gets angry at me and punishes me for not pleasing Him. With other people, I imagine it would be more difficult to treat them with as much respect and gentleness especially when the going gets tough because they are not God and I won’t really get anything out of them anyway, so no need for special treatment for them. Being a sinner, my heart’s first reaction would be to revolt. No way am I going to do that, Lord. But of course, Jesus will remain ever patient and gentle with me until I get it. I believe that’s just how Jesus is. I will not get it a first, but having my feet already washed by Jesus, my heart will slowly learn to understand why. Jesus’ love and ways will always find a way to soften my hardened and calloused heart, conquer the struggle within my heart, and FINALLY help my broken and wounded heart to see and understand the reason and meaning behind his actions. All that He is and all the He does is really just about one thing – the reality of selfless LOVE – which is the only way I can truly enter into the Kingdom of God and my salvation.

J: “If I do not wash you, you have no part in me”
P: Then wash my whole body not just my feet!
J: He who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet. But not all of you have bathed and are clean. You are all not clean!

My thought bubble: Is HE talking about me? What does HE mean by others not having bathed? What does HE mean when HE said, we are all not clean?

Yikes!!! Is HE referring to me?

My Lord are you reminding me that “bathing regularly” also means being mindful and conscious about striving to be pure and clean not only physically but more importantly in spirit.

Is it about being mindful and conscious about avoiding sin. Whether it is committing Sins of Commission where I hurt and put myself ahead of others or Sins of Ommission where I fail to respond to YOUR call to serve others and follow YOUR humble way of “washing the feet of others.”?

Maybe the other disciples were as dumbfounded as Peter, mas expressive lang si Peter. But all were as overwhelmed by the significance of what Jesus did — and what it meant for them, and for us.

Discomfort, disbelief. But eagerness once Jesus replied to Simon that they would take part in Him only if He is able to wash their feet.

I placed myself in the seat of one of the disciples. I felt confused, but told the one beside me, “let Him, I don’t understand what’s happening, but let Him.” After Jesus washed my feet, it felt good and reassuring. I thanked Him and He gave me a faint but loving smile.

Perhaps some apostles got “excited” and some might have volunteered to be next after Peter, without fully realizing the implications of the action of Jesus and His statement ” . . ought to wash each other’s feet … do as I have done to you.”

We also do get “excited” over a lot of things initially. But we when start to internalize the events and their possible consequences, we start to distance ourselves from the others … Just like the apostles (with the exception of St. John, the Beloved) who hid from the crowd while Jesus was on his way to Calvary . . .

The disciples were probably all “shocked & dumbfounded” by what the LORD JESUS was doing by washing their feet. They probable also felt unworthy, even ashamed, as many of them at that time were probably still “unsure” if JESUS was indeed the MESSIAH, and not just the “latest Great Prophet.”
My own take-away of the washing of the feet, especially during this ECQ, is a deeper sense of understanding what a SERVANT-LEADER is and should be. Someone mindful first of his responsibility to his followers rather than being concerned about his personal well-being, status/privilege and entitlements. I have been guilty of being too much “Leader” and not nearly enough as “Servant.” Forgive me, LORD JESUS, for my self-centredness in the past and please enlighten me via the HOLY SPIRIT to become a true SERVANT LEADER in YOUR Service ALWAYS.

Ackward, ill at ease, shameful, undeserved…

I believe it is talking to me too, a sinner, to humble myself and allow Jesus to wash me (Sacrament of confession) so that I will become a part of Him again and to wash off the offenses of others who have wronged me as well (forgive)…

Lord, pls wash me of my sins so that I will be one with you again and grant me the grace to be able to wash off the offenses of others who have offended me. Amen ???

The Lord’s washing of the feet gives us a lesson of God’s sense of forgiveness and service in spite of human faults/weaknesses but also within the context of our motivation to be with Him.

Awkward, ill at ease, shameful and undeserved…
I believe it speaks to me a sinner, that I must humble myself to accept Jesus’ washing (Sacrament of confession) in order to be a part of Him again and then to wash off the offenses of others who have wronged me (forgive).

Lord, I am sorry for all the wrong that I have done, pls wash me clean and grant me the grace to be able to forgive those who have offended me. Amen ? ??

Jesus always finds a way to shake up our current mindset. He did something very humble and unthinkable for those in the supper. He washed the feet of those whom he was teaching. In the mind of Peter, this task was not befitting his teacher but when he was told by Jesus that Peter cannot be part of Jesus without agreeing to having his feet washed, Peter relented and even tried to suggest that Jesus wash all other parts of his body. Jesus tempers Peter’s expectations.
To me, this speaks of being grounded and humble. As a leader, I must learn to be humble and to serve my staff but not do everything for them. LEADER=SERVICE

When I first experienced washing of the feet by our leader in my early community life, I felt overwhelmed and at the same time undeserving. I thought I didn’t deserve such humbling gesture for I’m a sinner. Maybe some of the deciples felt the same way as I did. That experience of washing of the feet taught me that to be Christ follower, I must serve with humility and love unconditionally.

I share the same insights as to how the reactions were of the others around Jesus and Peter….they felt awkward, uncomfortable, uneasy and most of all, unworthy when one they have looked up to, their Master and Teacher, knelt down and washed their feet. They all probably wondered, why was he doing this for us? It gave them all an opportunity to pause and reflect on what this experience meant for them. They must have pondered in their hearts, what this act of humility had taught them.

To Love like Jesus loved, is to serve as He had served. His was the greatest example of loving that we all must follow, as recipients of this great love.


I was about to sin ( Judas) but despite knowing this, He is already “forgiving” me by “cleansing” me and allowing Himself to be a part of me

It must have produced feelings of awkwardness, uneasiness, shame when one’s teacher who you look up to would go to the extent of kneeling down and wash your dirty feet. From the disciple’s perspective and if I was one of them, I would feel certain unworthiness. Who am I that the my Lord would wash my dirty feet? I would be feel shame.

But by Jesus’ very own words, “If I do not wash you, you have no part in me.” I believe it’s an assurance that whatever you are or whatever form you take, I am here to be with you. I love you in whatever form or circumstance you are in. I believe it’s humility the very rawest and simplest form. Jesus is telling me that if I love HIM, I must learn not only to be humble but I should be willing to love and accept the people He loves and serves. I must be willing to share the little or whatever I have been blessed.

My Lord, you knew Judas is going to betray you, still you washed his feet, your love did not change… There is no condition in your love… Lord, my Lord, let me learn from you.

The other disciples must’ve wondered if they had also “bathed” and were clean enough like Peter; because the Lord was sure that one of them wasn’t. Except for Judas, they must’ve desired that they were clean in they eyes of the Lord.

Jesus, teach me to be humble & kind to my family friends & people I meet.
Thank you God for your love and may Jesus teach us how to serve love others too.

It must have been an awkward experience for the disciples for the Master to wash their feet. This was clearly unprecedented.

I can see why Peter was chosen to be the leader of the Church. His reaction to Jesus’ washing of his feet was spontaneous and genuine. The other disciples may have been overwhelmed but too timid to react, and just wait
ed for someone to lead the pack.

Perhaps, as others observed the actions and interactions between Jesus and Peter, they grasped the message that Jesus was commissioning Peter to a bigger service with humility as the important ingredient; Jesus passing over to Peter the unfinished work of Jesus; and how Peter accepted the commissioning, that all of his self, he offered to Jesus. Perhaps, other disciples grasped that they too would be in the same situation being followers who love and believe in Jesus.
Perhaps, others saw the deeper love and relationship between Jesus and Peter that they could emulate.
Lastly, perhaps, all felt love and care for Jesus and for one another.

That they are not worthy… that they are humbled… honored… and inspired with their Lord and Teacher’s example.

not knowing why Jesus, their master and teacher, is washing their feet, like Peter, they might have felt uneasy, uncomfortable, not worthy. then hearing Jesus’s response to Peter when he protested to Jesus washing his feet.. “If I do not wash you, you will have no part in me”. Again, like Peter, now they want Jesus to wash not just their feet but their body as well. … because they want more. A very common (natural) human response of wanting more of everything that is good.

To treat others with kindness and love.

To be aware that we are not all that clean.

To follow Jesus’ example.

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