Posted On 20. April 2019 In Francis - Initiatives and Gestures

With prisoners once again

POPE FRANCIS, Maria Fischer with material from ACIprensa •

With prisoners once again. His favourites. The most forgotten and abandoned. During the afternoon of 18 April at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday and the foot-washing ceremony in Rome, Pope Francis urged the faithful to always be “brothers in service” as Jesus taught his apostles, and to put aside the ambition to dominate the other. As we meditate on the gesture and message of Pope Francis, we think of all the prison ministry projects within our Schoenstatt family and we give thanks for the donations made in solidarity. Precisely on Holy Thursday, 10 € arrived, sent with love by a German Sister of Mary for Fr. Pedro’s and his team’s Prison Ministry in Paraguay. [Related Article not translated into English]. —

 

The Mass took place at 5.30pm (local time) at the Velletri Penitentiary, an Italian area some 60km from the Vatican. During the visit, the Pope was greeted by the center’s authorities and met with inmates, civilian personnel and prison police officers.

“We heard what Jesus did at the Last Supper. It is interesting. The Gospel says: Jesus knowing that the Father had given everything into His hands,” namely, Jesus had all the power — all. And then, He begins this gesture of washing feet. It’s something that slaves did,” the Holy Father said at the start of his homily on 18 April.

He explained that even though the Lord “had all the power,” he takes the “performs the action of a slave and then counsels” his apostles: “Do this also among yourselves”. “In other words, serve one another, be brothers in service, not in ambition, as someone who dominates the other or one who steps on another. No. Service, service”.

The rule of service

“Each one of us must be servant of the others. This is the rule of Jesus and the rule of the Gospel: the rule of service, not of domination, doing evil, humiliating others. Service!” the Pontiff reminded them.

He then made reference to another Gospel passage in which the apostles were fighting amongst each other and arguing about who was the most important, then Jesus took a child and said: “If your heart isn’t the heart of a child, you won’t be my disciples”. “.

You have to have a child’s heart, simple, humble but serving,” said the Bishop of Rome.

A little later, the Pope said that Jesus added “something interesting that can be connected with today’s gesture”. “He says: Be careful, the heads of the nations dominate. They dominate. But it must not be so among you. The greatest must serve the smallest. One who feels himself the greatest must be a servant”. All of us must also be servants”.

Finally, the Holy Father asked that problems between people be “passing” and that they be encouraged to love the other.

After his homily, the Pontiff washed the feet of twelve inmates of this prison during the Mass “in Coena Domini”. According to the Holy See Press Office, the 12 prisoners come from 4 different countries: 9 are Italian, 1 from Brazil, 1 from Cote d’Ivoire, and 1 from Morocco.

At the end of the celebration, after the greeting by the Director for the Department of Prisons and an exchange of gifts, the Pope returned to the Vatican.

Below is the complete text of Pope Francis’s homily:

This is the rule of Jesus and the rule of the Gospel: the rule of service, not of domination, doing evil, humiliating others. Service.
I received a lovely letter a few days ago, from some of you who won’t be here today, but they said such lovely things. I thank them for what they wrote. In this prayer I am very united to all: those that are here and those that aren’t.

We heard what Jesus did at the Last Supper. It is interesting. The Gospel says: Jesus knowing that the Father had given everything into His hands,” namely, Jesus had all the power — all. And then, He begins this gesture of washing feet. It’s something that slaves did at that time, because there wasn’t tar on the streets and when people arrived, they had dust on their feet; when they arrived at someone’s home. When they arrived at a house for a visit or for lunch, there were slaves that washed the feet. And Jesus does this: He washes their feet. He performs the action of a slave. He, who had all the power, He who was the Lord, does this like a slave.

And then He counsels all: “Do this also among yourselves,” that is, serve one another, be brothers in service, not in ambition, as someone who dominates the other or one who steps on another. No. Service, service. You are in need of something, of a service? I’ll do it for you. This is fraternity. Fraternity is humble — always: it is at service.

And now I will do this gesture — the Church wants the Bishop to do it every year, once a year, at least on Holy Thursday — to imitate Jesus’ gesture and it is also an example for him, because the Bishop isn’t the most important, but he must be the greater servant. And each one of us must be servant of the others. This is the rule of Jesus and the rule of the Gospel: the rule of service, not of domination, doing evil, humiliating others. Service.

Once, when the Apostles were arguing among themselves, they were discussing “who is the most important among us,” Jesus took a child and said: “A child. If your heart isn’t the heart of a child, you won’t be my disciples”. A child’s heart, simple, humble but serving. And He adds an interesting thing here, which we can link with today’s gesture. He says: “Be careful, the heads of the nationls dominate. They dominate. But it must not be so among you. The greatest must serve the smallest. One who feels himself the greatest must be a servant”. All of us must also be servants. It’s true that in life there are problems: we quarrel among ourselves…however, this must be something that passes, a passing thing, because in our heart there must always be this love of service of the other; to be at the service of the other.

And may this gesture that I will perform today be for all of us be a gesture that helps us to be more serving of one another, more friends, more fraternal… more brothers in service. With these sentiments, we continue the celebration with the washing of the feet.

(Translation of Homily based on rough translation by Zenit)

Original: Spanish, 19 April. Translation: Sarah-Leah Pimentel, Cape Town, South Africa

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