Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are proved right when you speak
and justified when you judge.
Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Surely you desire truth in the inner parts;
you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
King David had been out on the roof of his house looking out on the city around him and the country that he ruled. As his eyes scanned the scenery he spotted a woman on the roof of her house – Bathsheba – who was naked and bathing. As King David watched, he began to desire her, and even though she was married he devised a plan to have her.
Her husband, Uriah, was one of his soldiers, so he had him sent to the front lines of a fierce battle where he would certainly be killed. He was and after the appropriate time of mourning, David had Bathsheba brought to him and married her.
The Lord saw David’s wickedness and sent Nathan the prophet to rebuke him of his sin. David confessed and it is believed that David wrote the Psalm I shared with you during his time of penance. He cried out to the Lord, “Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”
From the very beginning of human history when Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden, this cry has crossed the lips of all God’s children: “Wash me. Wash me from my sins so that I might be whiter than snow. So that I might be cleansed of my sins.”
It’s always been this way; however, on the day, ordained by God, Jesus opened the gates to another way. On that day, Jesus began by taking on the role of a slave and washed the disciples’ feet. Peter objected, but Jesus insisted, “If you are to be a part of me, if you are to be where I am going, then you must allow me to wash your feet. You must allow me to cleanse you.”
Following the foot washing, scripture says, “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’ Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’”
It is fair to say that the disciples failed to understand the significance and the relation of these two events, but after his crucifixion they would come to understand that the foot washing was symbolic of the washing of their souls through the body and blood of Christ.
Jesus – God – humbled himself to the role of a slave and washed their feet so that they might be outwardly clean. Jesus – God – humbled himself to death upon a cross so that their souls might be cleansed.
Today we celebrate the gift of the most Holy Eucharist. The symbolism of the washing of the feet points to the washing of our souls, and it is the answer to our cry, “Wash me, Lord. Wash me and I will be whiter than snow.”