Among thousands of pilgrims gathered on Holy Thursday in the Basilica of Saint John Lateran, Pope Benedict XVI presided over the Mass of the Last Supper, in which he made a moving call to contemplate the love of God, a love that knows no bounds.
After the reading of the Gospel of the Last Supper, and performing the washing of the feet of twelve men, the Pope said that “God loves his creature, man; He loves it also when it falls and doesn’t abandon it. He loves it until the end.”
In the gesture of “washing the feet” we see the “God’s holiness, which is not only an incandescent power before which we must pull back terrified, but is also the power of love and because of this is a purifying and healing power. God descends becoming slave; he washes our feet so that we can be at the table,” the Pope said.
Moreover, the Bishop of Rome related the washing of the feet with the redemption brought by Christ, “The bath in which we cleanse ourselves is his love readied to face death. Only love has this purifying strength that wipes away filth end elevates us to God’s heights. The bath that purifies us is He himself who gives Himself totally to us, as far as the depth of His suffering and death. He is continually this love that cleanses.”
Following that, Pope Benedict remarked that the presence of Christ “in the Sacraments of purification—baptism and the sacrament of penitence—He is continually kneeling before our feet and serving us as a slave, [performing] the service of purification that makes us capable of God.”
After raising the question of this refusal of God’s Love, the Pope continued by saying that “it is the refusal of Love, the refusal to be loved and to love. It is the pride to believe that it doesn’t need any purification, that closes itself to the saving goodness of God.”
“In Judas we see the nature of this refusal” The Pope said. “There remains the mystery of refusal that is present in the act of Judas, Judas values Jesus in terms of power and success. For him only power and success are real; love does not count. His greed for money is more important than communion with Jesus, more important than God and His love. His love is inexhaustible; it really goes on till the end
Finally, the Holy Father defined “Every deed of goodness for our fellows, especially for the suffering and those held in low regard, like the service of the washing of the feet. The Lord calls us to do this, step down [from our pedestal], learn to be humble, have the courage to be good and available to accept refusal, and yet trust goodness and persevere in it.”
“The Lord-he concluded- wipes away our filth with the purifying force of his goodness.”
Benedict XVI’s first Cœna Domini mass was celebrated once again in St John Lateran Basilica after Pope John Paul II’s ailing health had prevented him from conducting the service in the same location for several years
The faithful present were invited to participate to the project of rebuilding homes for the victims of the devastating mudslides that affected people in the Diocese of Maasin (Philippines). Offerings collected during the service will be destined to this project.
Tomorrow, on Good Friday, Benedict XVI will preside during the evening in the Basilica of Saint Peters over the celebration of the Passion of Our Lord, and during the night will be present at the Coliseum of Rome, symbol of the martyr of many Christians, to preside over the traditional Via Crucis.