We wash to cleanse ourselves of indifference to the oppression of other human beings.
To purify our hearts of dark wishes to dominate others.
To loosen the unhealthy habits that enslave us.
To prepare for a clear assessment of how we use and abuse freedom.
To scrub away stains of cynicism.
To remind ourselves that we are worthy of care.
To demonstrate that we are heirs to traditions, to manners.
To reawaken the sense of wonder as water runs through our fingers.
We wash to renew feelings of gratitude. We have water. We have hands.
We wash for all the reasons David has listed.
As we wash, we also remember in particular two events in the life of Jesus, his baptism and his washing the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper. So we wash for these reasons as well:
- To renew our own promises in baptism to renounce sin and evil.
- To recall belonging to the body of Christ
- To be clothed with the baptismal garment of “compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (see Colossians 3:12)
- To wash one another’s feet—that is, to be of service.
We wash ourselves for all the reasons stated in the Jewish voice. As we wash ourselves, taking ablution before worship, or taking ritual baths or washing hands before meals:
- We wash to purify ourselves from any wrongdoing and sins that we may have committed against God Almighty, or ourselves or others or the environment.
- We wash so God loves us as God loves clean and pure people.
- We wash to extinguish anger, suppress greed and control our desires.
- We wash to praise God’s blessing with gratitude.
- We wash to remind ourselves that we are heirs of the Abrahamic legacy and tradition.
Note: Translation of the Qur’anic verses and many of the Hadith translation with references were taken from Islamicity.com; some translations of and references to the Hadith were taken from ahadith.co.uk.