POPE Francis has given us the Holy Thursday foot-washing at a detention centre and his Easter message from the prophet Ezekiel that God’s mercy can restore life to dry bones (CL 7/4/13, Centrepoint pages 9 and 10).
These images of wet feet and dry bones are providential.
Chapters 6 and 13 of St John’s Gospel are also about the Eucharist as dry bones and wet feet.
In John 6:61 Jesus’ sayings are said to be “hard” by deserting disciples and Jesus recognises that he has become an “offence” to them.
The Greek word for “hard” is “sklero” from which we have derived our word for skeleton. The Greek for “offence” is “skandala”.
New Testament “scandal” refers to a stone over which we kick our feet and trip.
A “skandala” also refers to a snare, a stick with meat as part of a trap to ensnare.
Jesus’ discourse about being food and drink is received as if he were mere dry bones.
For the disaffected he is a riddle, not real food but bait in a trap. His challenge is too large for them.
John 13:2 links to chapter 6:71 through the reference to the betrayal by Judas Iscariot who is caught in “skandala”.
The foot-washing is God’s Word (Jesus) dwelling in the lowest of actions, the action of a slave.
The wet feet of 13:5 become in 13:34 a New Commandment of Jesus – to love as I have loved you.
It is a defining statement about God dwelling in Jesus.
If the Resurrection shocked disciples into life, the Incarnation shocked Jews into skandala.
Pope Francis says that Jesus is not only Resurrection (Ezekiel’s dry bones in the Parousia) but Incarnation (Bread from Heaven and wet feet: dignity).
For Judas, neither made sense.