His Daily Grace

From “Homily for Holy Thursday” (ca. 735)

Peter, with good reason, shrank from such an act of service [ i.e. Christ washing his feet] because he did not grasp the mystery. We should not doubt that others of them would have reacted in the same way if they were not deterred in the statement that was spoken to Peter, “If I do not wash you, you will have no part with me.” Here it is clearly pointed out that the washing of the feet implies the spiritual purification of body and soul without which we cannot arrive at fellowship with Christ…

Jesus is giving clear notice that this washing of the feet indicates pardoning of sins, and not only that which is given once in baptism, but in addition that by which the daily guilty actions of the faithful, without which no one lives in this life, are cleansed by his daily grace…

Christ said, “If I your Lord and master have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” We should take this statement in both its literal sense and its mystical sense, and we ought to carry it ought devoutly. Its literal sense is that we should serve each other in charity, not only by washing our brothers’ feet, but also by aiding them in any of their needs. The mystical sense is that, just as our Lord is wont to forgive the sins of those who repent, so also should we hasten to forgive our brothers when they sin against us. Just as he washes us from our sins by interceding with the Father on our behalf, so also should we, if we know our brother is committing a sin which is not to death, ask that life be given to him who is sinning not to death. And so the Apostle James advises, we should confess our sins to one another, and pray for each other, that we may be saved. Just as he laid down his life for us, so we also, if the occasion arises, should lay down our life for our brothers.

The Venerable Bede (ca. 673-735) was an English monk, teacher, and scholar, one of the most influential figures of the early Middle Ages. He was famed in his lifetime for his Biblical commentaries, and is best known today for his great history of the English church and people. His feast day is May 25. The translation used here is by Lawrence Martin and David Hurst, Bede the Venerable: Homilies on the Gospels (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 1991).


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