Thursday, April 21, 2011
Jesus of Nazareth II Discussion: Chapter 3
We now turn to chapter three, which deals with the "washing of the feet." This chapter weaves together a number of important themes, including the importance of purification, Christ's "New Commandment", the figures of Judas and Peter, and confession of sin.
"With the Last Supper, Jesus' 'hour' has arrived, the goal to which his ministry has been directed from the beginning (2:4)." -p. 54
"The 'hour' of Jesus is the hour of the great stepping beyond, the hour of transformation, and this metamorphosis of being is brought about through agape. It is agape "to the end"--and here John anticipates the final word of the dying Jesus: tetelestai--"it is finished" (19:30). This end (telos), this totality of self giving, of remolding the whole of being--this is what it means to give oneself even unto death." -p. 55
Of course, the later discussion on the "New Commandment" is meaningless unless one understands the importance of Jesus' self giving.
"In chapter 13 of the Gospel, it is the washing of the feet by Jesus that serves as the way of purification." -p. 59
"For the Christian faith, it is the incarnate God who makes us truly pure and draws creation into unity with God." -p. 60
"It is the God who comes down to us who makes us clean. Purity is a gift." -p. 61
Thus, since we are made pure through Christ, the "New Commandment" can now be given.
"The command to do as Jesus did is no mere moral appendix to the mystery, let alone an antithesis to it. It follows from the inner dynamic of gift with which the Lord renews us and draws us into what is his." -62
"The newness can come only from the gift being-with and being-in Christ." -p. 64
"The gift--the sacramentum--becomes an exemplum, an example, while always remaining a gift. To be a Christian is primarily a gift, which then unfolds in the dynamic of living and acting in and around the gift." -p. 65
How do we respond knowing that being a Christian is a gift?
The Pope then goes on to discuss Christ's interaction with Judas and Peter at the Last Supper. Feel free to comment on this section.
The Pope concludes this section by highlighting the importance of confession as found in Jesus' mysterious words found John 13:10: Jesus said to him, "He who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but he is clean all over; and you are clean, but not every one of you."
"Yet in this context, the washing of feet acquires another more concrete meaning, over and above its fundamental symbolism, one that points to the practicalities of life in the early Church. What is it? The complete bath that was taken for granted can only mean Baptism, by which man is immersed into Christ once and for all, acquiring his new identity as one who dwells in Christ. This fundamental event, by which we become Christians not through our own doing but through the action of the Lord in his Church, cannot be repeated. Yet in the life of Christians--for table fellowship with the Lord--it constantly requires completion: 'washing of feet'. What is this? There is no single undisputed answer. Yet it seems to me that the First Letter of John points us in the right direction and shows us what is meant. There we read: 'If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us' (1:8-10). Since even the baptized remain sinners, they need confession of sins, 'which cleans us from all unrighteousness'."