Holy Thursday– Pope Francis has visited a refugee centre to wash and kiss the feet of Muslim, Orthodox, Hindu and Catholic refugees– Aljazeera
In the anticipating spirit of Easter, during the solemn rites of the Holy Thursday, Catholic leader, Pope Francis chose none other to wash their feet but refugees. This is a re-enactment of the humble act of Jesus when he washed the feet of his disciples. According to the scriptural understanding, the washing of their feet by Jesus was a practical answer to them about who the greatest was.
“But he who is great among you will be a servant to you.”- Matthew 23:11
Every Holy Thursday, there is a re-enactment of this gesture of service. As a symbolic sign and significance of service in Catholicism, the washing of the feet of refugees by the Pope says something to the world. At a time when there are fearfully increasing numbers of militant attacks and “immigration sentiments”, this is a gesture that will soothe the hearts of the suffering people.
A while ago, there was a piece on social media displaying a 9/11 rubble with a scripture on it. Surprisingly, the message was to let bygones be bygones.
Coupled with the “welcome” gesture of the Pope, there is a unifying message in all this. As HARD as it is for anyone not to harbor reservations about the criminal and indiscriminate attacks of religious extremist groups all around the world. It appears the static message from Christianity is to forgive, accommodate and keep loving. The Christian religion always preaches charity, irrespective of who is wrong or wronged- Bearing wrongs patiently.
At the Castelnuovo di Porto, refugee shelter located outside Rome. The Pope’s gesture of service left the migrants who attended in tears. In 2013, Pope Francis had performed the same Holy Thursday ritual on women and Muslims at a juvenile detention center.
Traditionally it should be 12 Catholic men, but the pope is projecting more inclusiveness of the “people of God”. He includes people with contrasting religions who have no business with Christ per say.
Well, drawing from the scriptures Jesus knowing full well that Judas Iscariot would betray him, still washed his feet after all. This is a striking resemblance of the Pope’s feet-washing at the Holy Thursday solemnity yesterday. It does not appear that Muslim extremists will hence forth stop their attacks. But the Catholic leader has leading tenets and beliefs he is obligated to uphold and respect.
Still being inclusive, the Holy father included female migrants to the 12. All together, the Pope washed the feet of an Italian woman who works at the centre; 3 Eritrean Coptic Christian migrants; 4 Catholics from Nigeria, 3 Muslims from Mali, Syria and Pakistan, and a Hindu from India.
“We have different cultures and religions, but we are brothers and we want to live in peace,”- Pope Francis