Friday, April 03, 2015

Christ's Commandment to Love

Pope Francis was at it again yesterday. He entered the Ribibbia prison in Rome to celebrate the eucharist with inmates, then washed the feet of twelve selected from the male and female detention centres.

This isn't the first time he has ventured from St. Peter's for this symbolic act of servanthood.
On Maundy Thursday 2013, shortly after his election, he went to Rome's Casal del Marmo juvenile detention centre, where he washed the feet of young male and female offenders Last year, he presided over the Mass and foot-washing ritual at a rehabilitation facility for the elderly and people with disabilities on the outskirts of the city. I admire that Francis goes out to fulfill Jesus' commandment, the "maundatum" to love through service.

I pay attention to stories about Maundy Thursday that remind me that this isn't just a commemoration of a historical event. There is an article in the latest Christian Century magazine by  Lutheran pastor Diane Roth about the fifth grade kids of her congregation taking their first communion in the Maundy Thursday service last year. Extended families came, including the divorced parents of one child, along with their new partners. The estranged parents did some awkward introducing of the new people in their lives, then took part with their child.

It was rather uncomfortable from Roth's perspective, and yet she realized afterward that Jesus' commandment to love one another may be heard but is often broken or ignored. We take the opportunities to lay down our arms and embrace a different way, however imperfect that may seem.

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