HOLY MASS of the Lord's Supper
HOMILY OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
Prison District House of Velletri (Rome)
Holy Thursday, 18 April 2019
I greet you all and thank you for your welcome.
I received a nice letter a few days ago from some of you who will not be here today, but they said such beautiful things and I thank them for what they wrote.
In this prayer I am very close to everyone: those who are here and those who are not there.
We heard what Jesus did. It is interesting. The Gospel says: "Knowing Jesus that the Father had given everything in his hands", that is, Jesus had all the power, everything. And then, he begins to make this gesture of washing his feet. It was a gesture that slaves made at that time, because there was no asphalt in the streets and people, when they arrived, had dust on their feet; when he came to a house for a visit or lunch, there were slaves who washed their feet. And Jesus makes this gesture: he washes his feet. He makes a slave gesture: He, who had all the power, He, who was the Lord, makes the slave gesture. And then he advises everyone: "Make this gesture even among yourselves". In other words, serve one another, be brothers in service, not in ambition, as those who dominate each other or those who trample the other, don't be brothers in service. Do you need something, a service? I do it for you. This is fraternity. Fraternity is humble, always: it is at service. And I will make this gesture - the Church wants the Bishop to do it every year, once a year, at least on Holy Thursday - to imitate the gesture of Jesus and also to do well with the example even to himself, because the Bishop is not the most important, but must be the most servant. And each of us must be the servant of others.
This is the rule of Jesus and the rule of the Gospel: the rule of service, not of dominating, of doing evil, of humiliating others. Service! Once, when the apostles quarreled among themselves, they discussed "who is most important among us", Jesus took a child and said, "The child. If your heart is not a child's heart, you will not be my disciples. " Heart of a child, simple, humble but servant. And there adds an interesting thing that we can connect with this gesture today. He says: "Be careful: the leaders of the nations dominate, but among you it must not be so. The older one must serve the smaller one. Whoever feels the greatest must be a servant ”. All of us must also be servants. It is true that in life there are problems: we quarrel among ourselves ... but this must be something that passes, a passing thing, because in our hearts there must always be this love of serving the other, of being at the service of the other.
And this gesture that today I will make for all of us a gesture that will help us to be more servants of each other, more friends, more brothers in service. With these feelings, we continue the celebration with the washing of the feet.