Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Basin & Purgatory

As a Christian, If I'm washed, sanctified & justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, can that ever be changed? If I'm once clean, can I become dirty again? If I'm once sanctified, can I become desecrated? If I'm once justified, can I incur punishment for some new crime? If I have abundant riches, can't I become poor in a moment? How can I logically believe otherwise? Jesus spoke often about such things. 

One such place was at the last supper, where He was washing the disciple's feet. Peter insisted Jesus should instead wash the whole body but Jesus replied that "those who have bathed only need to wash & he is clean all over" (Jn 13:10). Evidently, He saw bathing & washing as 2 different things. To bathe means to immerse oneself in water, while washing is more like taking water to one part or another to refresh the overall purity of the body. If bathing is likened to baptism, what is washing likened to? Jesus told the disciples to wash one another's feet as He had done for them. Why? Was it an an act of hospitality? Did it have physical / cultural applications only or was it more of a symbolic, spiritual gesture? 

After researching more about purgatory, I was reminded about how Jesus told His disciples that night they wouldn't understand what He was doing just then, but they would later (John 13: 6-11)... Its my opinion that He was eluding to something symbolic rather than a physical act He wanted to see done every Holy Thursday for the next 2,000 years. Notice He told them to wash one another's feet & in particular, those of believers for a reason. 

What does it mean to "wash another's feet", especially if they have already bathed & are "clean"?  Those who have bathed, that is, those who have been baptised with water, need only to be washed.  Jesus chose to wash the disciple's feet- not their hands, their faces, or their forearms. Why the feet? Because in those days, they got the dirtiest? How would washing the feet have spiritual implications for another believer?  The physical act is both uncomfortable & vulnerable, but profoundly powerful. If washing the feet is merely symbolic, the reality is in the humbling of one's self to share the burden of the other. The definition for this action is known as intercessory prayer. 

Apparently, we can pray (along with those in Heaven) for the souls in purgatory just like we pray for our brothers & sisters here on earth. Praying for the burdens of the Church Suffering to be lightened can help them be purified more expediently so they may enter Heaven. In a sense, we are washing their feet through prayer.  In turn, those admitted to heaven can pray for us because we are one body & God is God of the living, not of the dead. 

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