Love is without limits, and without love, the Church cannot move or grow.
According to Vatican News, Pope Francis stressed this during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta as he reflected on the Last Supper, in which Jesus teaches love in the Eucharist and service in the washing of the feet.
Recalling today’s Gospel from St. John, the Pope highlighted that Jesus’ love that evening demonstrated that no servant is greater than the master.
The Gospel account, the Jesuit Pontiff explained, contains three foundational truths for the Church: Jesus teaches us love through the Eucharist, he teaches us service in the washing of the disciples’ feet, and says no servant is greater than his master.
Jesus, the Pope said, made two “institutional gestures” at the Last Supper: one, in giving His body to eat and His blood to drink in the Eucharist; two, in washing the disciples’ feet.
“These two actions,” he said, “reveal two commandments that will make the Church grow, if we are faithful.”
The first commandment, he noted, is love. “It is no longer “love your neighbor as yourself,” the Pope said, “because Jesus takes a step further, saying “love one another as I have loved you.”
“Love is without limits. Without it, the Church cannot move forward; the Church cannot breathe. Without love, she cannot grow, and is transformed into an empty institution, made up of appearances and actions without fecundity. In his bodily actions, Jesus tells us how we should love, that is, until the end.”
“Serve one another,” the Pope said is the second commandment, which was born out in the washing of the feet.
The third lesson, Francis stressed, involves serving humbly, knowing we are ‘sent’ and not greater than others.
“The awareness is that He is greater than all of us, and that we are servants who cannot go beyond Jesus. We cannot use Jesus. He is the Lord, not us. This is the Lord’s will. Giving himself to eat and drink, he tells us to love one another in this way. Washing the feet, he tells us to serve each other in like manner.”
“But beware,” Francis warned, “no servant is greater than the one who sent him, the master. These blunt words and actions are the foundations of the Church. If we proceed in like fashion with these three points, we shall never fail.”
Martyrs and many saints, the Pope said, acted “with the awareness of being servants.”
Pope Francis concluded, giving the following invitation: “Let Jesus’ gaze enter into me. We will feel many things: love, maybe nothing… We might feel trapped there or feel shame. But always let Jesus’ gaze in.”