Below is a ZENIT translation of Pope Francis’ address during his 3rd Jubilee Audience held Saturday morning in St. Peter’s Square. The Jubilee Audiences are planned be held on Saturdays, once a month, during the Holy Year:
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
We are approaching the feast of Easter, central mystery of our faith. As we heard, John’s Gospel recounts that before dying and resurrecting for us, Jesus carried out a gesture that was engraved in the memory of the disciples: the washing of the feet, an unexpected and overwhelming gesture, to the point that Peter refused to accept it. I would like to reflect on Jesus’ last words: “Do you know what I have done to you? […] If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet” (13:12.14). Thus Jesus pointed out service to His disciples as the way to follow, to live faith in Him and to give witness of His love. Jesus applied to Himself the image of the “Servant of God” used by the prophet Isaiah. He, who is the Lord, makes Himself servant!
By washing the feet of the Apostles, Jesus wanted to reveal to us God’s way of acting in our relations, and to give an example of his “new commandment” (John 13:34) to love one another as He has loved us, namely, by giving His life for us. John himself writes this in his First Letter: “By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren […] Little children, let us not love in word or speech, but in deed and in truth” (3:16.18).
Love, therefore, is the concrete service we render one another. Love not in words but in deeds and service, a humble service, carried out in silence and hiddenness, as Jesus Himself said: “do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” (Matthew 6:3). This implies making available the gifts that the Holy Spirit has lavished on us, so that the community can grow (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:4-11). In addition, it is expressed in the sharing of material goods, so that no one is in need. This sharing and dedication to those in need is a style of life that God also suggests to many non-Christians, as the way of genuine humanity.
Lastly, let us not forget that by washing the feet of the disciples and asking them to do likewise, Jesus has also invited us to confess to one another our faults and to pray for one another to be able to forgive one another from our heart. In this connection, let us recall the words of the holy Bishop Augustine when he wrote: “The Christian must not disdain to do what Christ did. Because when the body bends down to the brother’s feet, the heart is also enkindled, or if the sentiment of humility was already there, it is nourished […] Let us forgive one another for our wrongs and let us pray for one another for our faults and thus in some way we will wash one another’s feet” (In Jon 58:4-5). Love, charity, is service, to help others, to serve others. Last week I received a letter from a person who thanked me for the Year of Mercy. She asked me to pray for her so that she could be closer to the Lord. This person’s life is to take care of her mother and brother: her elderly mother is bedridden, lucid but unable to move and her brother is disabled, in a wheelchair. This person’s life is to serve, to help. And this is love! When one forgets oneself and thinks of others, this is love! And, with the washing of the feet the Lord taught us to be servants, more than that: servants, as He was a servant for us, for each one of us.
Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, to be merciful as the Father <is merciful> means to follow Jesus on the way of service. Thank you.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]
I give a cordial welcome to the Italian-speaking pilgrims. I am happy to receive with affection and certain nostalgia the faithful of the Archdiocese of Naples – may Our Lady accompany you! – with Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe; those of Lecce, Piacenza-Bobbio and of the dioceses of Romagna, accompanied by their respective Pastors. I greet the Salesian Sisters of the Sacred Hearts, who are observing the 10th anniversary of the canonization of their Founder, Saint Philip Smaldone, apostle of the deaf-mute, and the group of Friends of Cardinal Pironio. I greet the young people taking part in the Meeting of Volunteers of the Civil Service, the youngsters of the Knights experience and the Association of Catholic Teachers, on the occasion of the 70th years of their foundation, as well as the Adiconsum and the OFTAL of Vercelli. I invite you to live this Holy Year as an intense experience of rediscovery of the works of mercy towards brethren, on the example of the Jesuit Saint Bernardine Realino, apostle of charity, the fourth centenary of whose death we observe this year.
I greet the young people, the sick and the newlyweds. Today is the Liturgical Memoria of Saint Maximilian of Tebessa, martyr of conscientious objection during the Roman Empire. Dear young people, learn from him to defend the values in which you believe; dear sick, offer your sufferings for those who today still suffer persecutions because of the faith; and you, dear newlyweds, be collaborators of God in your commitment as educators of your children.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]