Pope says gestures speak louder than words, and washes the feet of refugees
Francis celebrated the ‘Missa in coena Domini’ at a centre for asylum seekers. “Even today, here, there are two gestures: this, of all of us together, Muslims, Hindus, Catholics, Copts, Evangelical brothers and sisters – children of the same God – we want to live in peace, integrated.” Instead, “Three days ago, an act of war, of destruction in a European city, by people who do not want to live in peace.” But "Behind that [other] gesture, there are manufacturers, arms dealers who want blood, not peace; they want the war, not fraternity."
Rome (AsiaNews, 24 Mars 2016) – Pope Francis on Thursday evening celebrated the Missa on coena Domini - the Mass of the Lord’s Supper – at the C.A.R.A. Welcome and Hospitality Centre operated by the Auxilium cooperative. Just located outside Rome, in Castelnuovo di Porto, the Centre currently provides temporary lodging and services to some 900 asylum seekers.
Before the ritual washing of the feet, a reminder of the institution of the Eucharist, the pontiff, said that gestures speak louder than words. To explain the meaning of this gesture, which evokes what Jesus did during the Last Supper, he said that gestures may come from those who express hospitality and brotherhood, or from those, like in Brussels, who carry out “an act of war, of destruction, [. . .] who do not want to live in peace.”
During the ritual, the pope washed the feet of 12 people, 11 refugees – four Catholics from Nigeria, three Coptic women from Eritrea, three Muslims from Syria, Pakistan and Mali, a young Indian Hindu and one Italian Catholic woman from the cooperative itself. In so doing, he reiterated his choice for those who are marginalised. In 2013, he performed the same ritual at a juvenile prison, in 2014 at a hospice for people with disabilities, and in 2015 in a prison.
“Gestures speak louder than pictures and words,” the pope said. “There are, in the Word of God we read, two gestures: Jesus serving, washing the feet . . . He, who was the ‘head man’, washing the feet of others, of His own, even of the least; one gesture. The second gesture: Judas who goes to the enemies of Jesus, those who do not want peace with Jesus, to take the money that bought His betrayal; the 30 pieces of silver.
“Even today, here, there are two gestures: this, of all of us together, Muslims, Hindus, Catholics, Copts, Evangelical brothers and sisters – children of the same God – we want to live in peace, integrated. One gesture. Three days ago, an act of war, of destruction in a European city, by people who do not want to live in peace. Though behind that gesture, as there were behind that of Judas, there were others. Behind Judas there were those who offered money, that Jesus be delivered up to them. Behind that [other] gesture [on Tuesday in Belgium], there are manufacturers, arms dealers who want blood, not peace; they want the war, not fraternity.
“Two gestures, just the same: Jesus washes feet, Judas sold Jesus for money. You, we, all of us together, of different religions, different cultures, but children of the same Father, brothers – and there, those poor people, who buy weapons to wreck fraternity.
“Today, at this time, when I do the same act of Jesus washing the feet of twelve of you, let us all make an gesture of brotherhood, and let us all say: “We are different, we are different, we have different cultures and religions, but we are brothers and we want to live in peace.”
“This, then, is the gesture that I make with you. Each of us has a story, each of you has a story you carry with you. Many crosses, many sorrows: but also an open heart that wants brotherhood. Let each, in his religious language, pray the Lord that this brotherhood be contagious in the world, that there be no 30 pieces of silver to purchase a brother’s murder, that there be always brotherhood and goodness. So be it.