03/12/2016, 14.48
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Pope: follow Jesus on the path of "concrete service that we render onto one another”

During today’s Jubilee audience, Francis said that "By washing the Apostles' feet, Jesus showed how God acts towards us, and set an example of his ‘new commandment’ to love one another as he has loved us." Speaking to the participants in a course organised by the Roman Rota, the pontiff said that "the verification of the validity of a marriage represents a major possibility”. Those who have experienced a failed marriage “should be helped to follow this path as smoothly as possible."

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – As part of his ongoing reflections on mercy, Pope Francis held another special General Audience this morning in St Peter’s Square. In it, he focused on service, on the experience of faith as indicated by Jesus. Before the meeting, Francis received in the Paul VI Hall participants in a course organised by the Tribunal of the Roman Rota on the super rato procedures of marriage.

During the audience, the pontiff said, “To be merciful like the Father means following Jesus on the path of service", a "concrete service that we render onto one another.  Love is not just words, it is deeds . . . Love is service! A humble service, done in silence and concealment."

At the recent Synod on the family, "strong expectations emerged to make the procedures for the declaration of nullity of marriage more flexible and effective,” the pope said. “Many of the faithful, in fact, suffer from the end of their marriage and are often oppressed by doubt as to whether it was valid or not.

“They wonder whether there was something already in the intentions or in the facts that prevented the effective realisation of the sacrament. In many cases, these believers find it hard to access legal ecclesial bodies and feel the need for simplified procedures.”

“The documents Mitis iudex Dominus Iesus and Mitis et Misericors Iesus, promulgated on 15 August, have an eminently pastoral goal,” said the pontiff, namely “to show the Church’s concern for those faithful who are waiting for a quick verification on their marital status.

"It is important,” he went on to say, “that the new rules be implemented and analysed, in substance and spirit, especially by ecclesiastical court staff, in order to provide justice and charity to families. For many people, who go through an unhappy marriage, the verification of the validity of a marriage represents a major possibility; and these people should be helped to follow this path as smoothly as possible."

In his address to the 50,000 people in St Peter’s Square, the pope turned to Jesus’ washing of the feet. "By so doing,” he said, “Jesus shows service to his disciples as the path forward to experience faith in Him and bear witness to his love. Jesus applied to himself the image of the Servant of God used by the prophet Isaiah. He, who is the Lord, became a servant!

“By washing the apostles' feet, Jesus showed how God acts towards us, and set an example of his ‘new commandment’ (John, 13:34) to love one another as he has loved us, that is, by giving his life for us. John himself writes in his First Letter, ‘The way we came to know love was that he laid down his life for us; so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers [. . .] Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth’ (1 John, 3:16-18).

“Love, then, is the concrete service we render onto one another. Love is not just words, [it is] deeds . . . Love is service! A humble service, done in silence and concealment. As Jesus himself noted, “do not let your left hand know what your right is doing”. This means making available [to others] the gifts that the Holy Spirit has bestowed upon us, so that the community may grow (cf. 1 Cor 12:4-11). This also finds expression in sharing material goods, that no one may be in need. Sharing and dedication to those in need is a way of life that God suggests to many non-Christians as a path to true humanity. "

"Finally, let us not forget that by washing the disciples' feet and asking them to do the same, Jesus also invited us to confess our faults to each other and pray for each other in order to know truly how to forgive. In this regard, let us remember the words of Bishop Saint Augustine when he wrote, “nor should the Christian think it beneath him to do what was done by Christ. For when the body is bent at a brother's feet, the feeling of such humility is either awakened in the heart itself, or is strengthened if already present. [. . .]  Let us therefore forgive one another his faults, and pray for one another's faults, and thus in a manner be washing one another's feet.

"Love, charity and service, helping others, serving others. There are many people who spend their life this way, in the service of others. Last week, I received a letter from someone who thanked me for the Year of Mercy. She asked me to pray for her, so that she could be closer to the Lord. The person’s life was taking care of her mother and brother. Her mother is bedridden, old but still of sound mind, unable to move; her brother is disabled, on a wheelchair. This person, her life, was to serve, to help. This is love! When we forget oneself and think about others, this is love! With the washing of feet, the Lord teaches us to be servants, to serve, as He was a servant for us, for each of us. Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, to be merciful like the Father means to follow Jesus on the path of service.”

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