VATICAN CITY, MARCH 30, 2002 (Zenit.org).- It is not possible to separate the sacrament of the Eucharist from the commandment of love, John Paul II said during the Holy Thursday evening Mass of the Lord´s Supper.
Because of an arthritic knee, the Holy Father was unable to performing the ritual Washing of the Feet. Instead, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, washed the feet of 12 elderly priests on the Pope´s behalf. After the rite, John Paul II blessed each priest.
“Participation in the Lord´s Mass cannot be separated from the duty to love one´s neighbor,” the Bishop of Rome said during the homily.
“Every time we partake of the Eucharist, we also express our ´Amen´ before the Body and Blood of the Lord,” he said. “Thus we commit ourselves to do what Christ did, ´to wash the feet´ of brothers, being transformed into concrete and transparent images of the One who ´stripped himself and assumed the condition of a slave.´”
“Love is the most precious legacy that he leaves to those he calls to follow him. On this night, he gave the whole of humanity his love, shared by his disciples,” said the Holy Father, when commemorating the institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood.
And given the inconsistency of Christians´ life with the Lord´s commandment, the Pope concluded his homily by proposing “the rediscovery of the sacrament of reconciliation, to help all believers to come to the table of the Body and Blood of the Lord with respect and devotion.”
At the Pope´s request, the collection taken up during the Mass was earmarked for the poorest Indian and mestizo populations of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Cardinal Sodano assisted the Holy Father in the Liturgy of the Eucharist. John Paul II pronounced the words of the consecration, but it was Cardinal Sodano who raised the Host and the chalice.
At 5 p.m. on Good Friday, the Pope presided over the Liturgy of the Word, the Adoration of the Cross, and the Rite of Communion.
After 9 p.m., from the Palatine Hill, he presided over the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum, which was illuminated by tens of thousands of candles carried by pilgrims.