St. John was a contemplative.
…having loved his own that were in the world, he loved them unto the end…he riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments, and took a towel…
There is a mystique of identity present in selflessly serving others, and in contemplative reflection on behalf of it.
Taken together with John 6’s Eucharistic love, chapter 13 becomes a sacramental addendum…a sign of union both with and in Christ. Liturgy is always a sign of agape, and not an isolated sign of worship or sanctification. In liturgy God is literally present in Christ. But not just that…also in our live for one another, which constitutes reality. Sacrificial service to others is both the yes of God, as we are embraced by God’s love, but of also a yes for others, giving ourselves to one another as members of Christ. From the sign of service to its implementation, foot washing is the vanguard of all other humble service for ones out of love.
We do not enter into this mystery most fully by thinking about it or forcing affections upon our hearts, but by receiving…by quietly allowing the Word to germinate and grow.
I am reminded of the gentle invitation at the closing prayer of the old Latin Mass:
Grant us, we beseech Thee, O almighty and merciful Lord, that what we have receive as our nourishment in visible Mysteries we may enjoy in its invisible effect.