Rome (AsiaNews ) - "An act of love and service," to remind us that "we must be servants to each other". "Think of others" is the message contained in the act of "washing of the feet", said Pope Francis as he washed those of 12 guests at the Don Gnocchi Foundation rehabilitation center St. Mary of Providence this afternoon.
The third pope to visit the
Foundation after Paul VI (23 December 1963) and John Paul II (23 December 1990),
Francis wanted to perform the rite among the "least", the young prisoners in
Casal del Marmo last year, "Don
Gnocchi's" disabled today.
People of different ages, of different disabilities and of different religious affiliations, three foreigners and nine Italians. The youngest, Osvaldinho, originally from Cape Verde, 16 years old , confined to a wheelchair following a treacherous dive into the sea last summer. The oldest Peter and Angelica, both 86. The Pope knelt down before each of them, washed, dried and kissed their feet.
The washing of the feet, the Pope said, evoke the gesture made by Jesus during the Last Supper, which is repeated during the "Missa in Coena Domini", which opens the Easter Triduum. "What Jesus did at the Last Supper - Francis said - was a farewell gesture". "It is a sort of legacy that he leaves us. He is God and became a servant, our servant. And this is our inheritance: you too should be servants of one another. And He travelled this path out of love: you too should love each other and be servants, in love. This is the legacy that Jesus left us".
"And - he continued - he makes this gesture of washing the feet, which is a symbolic gesture: the slaves , the servants of the diners would do this for the people who came to lunch, to dinner, because at that time the roads were made of dirt and when they entered a house, their feet had to be washed. Jesus makes a gesture, a task, that of a slave, a servant". "This - he said - he leaves as an inheritance among us. We are to be servants of one another. And for this, the Church, today, we commemorate the Last Supper. When Jesus instituted the Eucharist, in the ceremony, he also this made this act of washing the feet, which reminds us that we must be each other's servants".
"Now - he concluded - I will make this gesture, but all of us, in our hearts, we must think of others and think of the love that Jesus tells us that we should have for others, and also think of how we can serve them better, other people. Because this is what Jesus wanted from us".