The washing of the hands is primarily a symbol of the interior purification necessary before offering the sacrifice of the Spotless Lamb. A good and humble priest, conscious of his unworthiness, must feel at this point a certain trepidation, for he knows that as “another Christ”, he must be pure of mind and body and blameless in his actions.
According to St. Thomas Aquinas (De anima iii) the hand is the “organ of organs” in which the power and activity of man is concentrated, used for either good or evil. In recalling that Pilate used that power to deliver the innocent Christ to death, we may pray: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, who, though declared innocent by Pontius Pilate, didst hear without opening Thy divine lips, the outcries of the Jews to crucify Thee; grant that I may live innocently, and that the malice of others may not trouble me. Amen.”
In union with the priest and the other faithful, we propose to incline our wills to always do good so as to be counted among the innocent of heart who approach the altar.