Dinner with the basin
Neither before nor after, but during the meal Jesus stands up, removes His outer garments, ties a towel around His waist and carries out the sacrament of footwashing. According to the Gospel of John, the washing of the feet is the Eucharist. According to John, neither the cup nor the bread is the focus of the last supper; rather it is on the disciples’ feet, on the basin of water, and on the towel wrapped around Jesus’ waist. The washing of feet is something that no other sacrament can offer, no other rite can accomplish, no other liturgy can provide. The washing for love, in love, with love puts everyone on the same plain in the same dimension and makes everyone a part of that plain, of that dimension. Without the washing of the feet there will never be unity between God and man, between man and God, or the sharing of the same dimension in love.
The washing of feet for Jesus is tied to the verb ofèilo, the verb used to express duty, necessity. In the Gospel Jesus never uses the verb "must": the gospel’s procedures are never obligations; its inspirations are invitations, they are messages of joy, they are indications. But here we speak of a duty, an obligation. The verb ofèilo, "I have, I have debt, I owe, I owe it to someone, I give, I am required to give," is thought to originate from the Akkadian chabalu, "to assume a financial obligation." Not washing the feet puts you in debt, a debt of irreconcilable disunion with God which makes you unable to be part of Him and His divine dimension.
The basin puts humanity on the same plain with God so that humanity can begin to happily partake, unfettered and without boundaries, in God’s dimension. The basin puts God on the same plain with humanity so that God can begin to happily partake, unfettered and without boundaries, in humanity’s dimension.
The washing of the feet puts the Lord on the same plain with the servant and the servant with the Lord, one becomes part of the other, indeed one becomes a part in the other. Thus it is that the Teacher becomes one with the disciple, the disciple becomes one with the Teacher. Jesus takes off His outer garments of royal divinity to share with man His dominion, His omnipotence, His wisdom and His eternity, in a basin of water.
The washing of feet is a basin of love and forgiveness: not only does it bring every dimension into the other, but it also cleanses, heals, saves and cures.
According to the Gospel there is no future for the church, as we know it, if it does not learn the art of footwashing; there is no future for marriages and families, for affective relationships, for the coexistence of peoples.
Without footwashing, no one will ever become part of the other’s dimension; we will never know the power of unity, the essence of true sharing, the purification of forgiveness, the irrepressible happiness of being a part of God and His dimension.