Catholic News Service reports that Pope Francis washed the feet of 12 you prisoners at a youth prison in Rome. The prisoners were between the age of 14- 21: ten young men and two young women. It reports that two of the young people were Muslim. Here is the reported unscripted homily the pope gave according the Catholic Herald – UK.
According to a translation provided by Vatican Radio, he said in his short homily: “This is moving, Jesus washes the feet of his disciples. Peter understands nothing. He refuses but Jesus explains to him. Jesus, God did this, and He Himself explains it to the disciples. ‘Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do’.
“It is the example set by Our Lord, it’s important for Him to wash their feet, because among us the one who is highest up must be at the service of others. This is a symbol, it is a sign – washing your feet means I am at your service. And we are too, among each other, but we don’t have to wash each other’s feet each day. So what does this mean? That we have to help each other…sometimes I would get angry with one someone, but we must let it go and if they ask a favour of do it!
“Help one another. This is what Jesus teaches us. This is what I do. And I do it with my heart. I do this with my heart because it is my duty, as a priest and bishop I must be at your service. But it is a duty that comes from my heart and a duty I love. I love doing it because this is what the Lord has taught me. But you too must help us and help each other, always. And thus in helping each other we will do good for each other.
“Now we will perform the ceremony of the Washing of the Feet and we must each one of us think, Am I really willing to help others? Just think of that. Think that this sign is Christ’s caress, because Jesus came just for this, to serve us, to help us.”
Tom Fox or the NCR adds a bit more information:
“While media outlets were not allowed inside the detention facility, Vatican Radio offered a live audio feed and the Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, briefed reporters afterward. He said the ritual was “extremely moving” because kneeling on both knees was very demanding for a 76-year-old pope.
The pope thanked everyone for their warm welcome and said he was happy to be with them. In words of encouragement, he told the young people “Press on! Don’t let yourselves be robbed of hope. Understood?”
The pope greeted the residents with hugs and gave each of the young detainees a large chocolate egg and a traditional Italian Easter cake shaped like a dove.
The detainees, who range in age from 14 to 21, then gave the pope a wooden crucifix and kneeler they made in the detention center’s woodshop.”
Now I need to get a bite to eat and get ready for the Holy Thursday Mass at my Parish.