On Saturday morning, Pope Francis held his special General Audience held one Saturday every month throughout the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
During his Audience, Pope Francis centered his reflections on love and service. Speaking on the spiritual significance of Jesus’ act of humility in washing the feet of His disciples, he said:
“By washing the feet of the apostles, Jesus wanted to reveal how God acts toward us, and to give an example of this ‘new commandment’ of loving one another as he has loved us; that is, giving his life for us.
Love, then, “is the concrete service we give to each other,” he said, explaining that love isn’t just saying or doing things, but “love is willing to humbly and unconditionally serve others in a lowly human task.” “A humble service, done in silence and hiddenness , as Jesus himself said: ‘Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”
It is such an “unexpected and shocking gesture” that Peter doesn’t want to accept it, Pope Francis said, and cited Jesus’ question of “Do you understand what I have done for you?”
When Jesus washes his disciples’ feet and tells them that, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet,” the Pope noted that Jesus pointed out to his disciples to follow His example and be willing to perform even the most unpleasant tasks for their brethren and mankind.
Jesus instituted the foot-washing ceremony to illustrate that He, the son of God had come to serve mankind. Love and charity, is service, he said.
To serve others, then, means to use and make available the gifts that the Holy Spirit has given us in order for the community to grow, he said, adding that this type of service also includes sharing one’s material goods “so that no one is in need.”
“This sharing and dedication to whoever is in need is a lifestyle which God also suggests to many non-Christians, as a path of authentic humanity,” the Pope noted.
He encouraged pilgrims not to forget that in washing the disciples’ feet and in asking us to do the same, Jesus is also inviting us to confess our failings and to pray for each other so that we know “how to forgive from the heart.”
Pope Francis closed his audience by stressing that no follower of Christ is to set himself above serving any other human being. He said Jesus teaches us to be true servants, as he was for each one of us.
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, to be merciful like the Father means to follow Jesus on the path of service.”