Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

3/25/2013 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The face of Jesus is found in the face of the poor, for those with eyes to see

For those paying close attention to these early days of the pontificate of Pope Francis, this should come as no surprise. There is a saying attributed to St Francis of Assisi.  Whether he actually said it or not matters little. It expresses the heart of his charism, "I preach the Gospel at all times and sometimes I use words." St. Francis became a word from the Lord through the witness of his life. It seems Pope Francis is following in his footsteps.

Pope Francis as a Bishop washing the feet of a young, disabled man

Pope Francis as a Bishop washing the feet of a young, disabled man

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/25/2013 (2 years ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: Pope Francis, Holy Thursday, footwashing, prison, Casal del Marmo youth detention center, the poor, Matthew 25, Deacon Keith Fournier


VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - On March 21, 2013, theVatican issued the following notice: "On Holy Thursday, 28 March, the Holy Father Francis will celebrate the Chrism Mass in St. Peter's Basilica in the morning and then, at 5:30pm in the afternoon, will go to celebrate the Mass of the Lord's Supper at the Casal del Marmo youth detention center instead of the Basilica of St. John Lateran, where it had been traditionally held in past years."

It continued, "The Mass of the Lord's Supper is characterized by the announcement of the commandment of love and the gesture of washing the feet. In his ministry as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Bergoglio used to celebrate the Mass in a prison or hospital or hospice for the poor and marginalized. With this celebration at Casal del Marmo, Pope Francis will continue his custom, which is characterized by its humble context. The other Holy Week celebrations will be held according to tradition, as established in a notification by the Office of Liturgical Celebrations."

For those paying close attention to these early days of the pontificate of Pope Francis, this should come as no surprise. There is a saying attributed to St Francis of Assisi.  Whether he actually said it or not matters little. It expresses the heart of his charism, "I preach the Gospel at all times and sometimes I use words." St. Francis became a word from the Lord through the witness of his life. 
 
Chapter 11 of the Legenda Maior, the masterful work of Bonaventure of Bagnoregio on the life of Francis of Assisi, is entitled "The Understanding of Scripture and the Spirit of Prophecy" It explains what Bonaventure called the "spirit of prophecy" in the life of Francis of Assisi. He was a "word walking". He lived the Christian life and vocation in a manner that is intended - through example- to invite others to follow the same pattern. It seems his namesake, the 265th successor of Peter, Pope Francis, is following in his footsteps.

Whenever I read the 25th chapter of Matthews Gospel  I am drawn to my knees by the words of Jesus,  "I was hungry, and you gave me food; I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you welcomed me; I was naked and you gave me clothing; I was sick and you took care of me; I was in prison, and you visited me." (Matt. 25: 31-46)

How well I understand the question posed by his stunned disciples, "Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs." (Matthew 25.35-36) It was an extraordinary statement! However, as I have aged I have come to see the many faces of poverty and I am just beginning to learn to recognize the face of Jesus revealed in them all. Pope Francis will become one of my teachers.

Have you ever considered the significance of the fact that the same Jesus who promised to be with us always also told us that the poor would be with us always? That is because they are connected. Indeed, in a sense, they are one and the same - in a way that is revealed with the eyes of living faith. "The poor you will always have with you; but you will not always have me" (Jesus, Matthew 26:11) "And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age." (Jesus, Matthew 28:20)

The face of Jesus is found in the face of the poor, for those with eyes to see. The word of Jesus is spoken through the poor, for those who cultivate the ears to hear Him. The cry of Jesus is heard in the cry of the poor, at least for those who stop to listen. That is the deeper meaning behind this sobering scene recounting the last judgment recorded by the Evangelist Matthew in the 25th Chapter of his Gospel:

"Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.'

"Then the righteous will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?'And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.'"

Those who love the poor - like Jesus loved the poor- are given as a gift and instruction manual for the rest of us. They are a sign of the kingdom, making it present in their wake. We have a Pope named Francis who is teaching us in this visit to the Jail on Holy Thursday. As he washes the feet of those prisoners, he washes the feet of Jesus. 

Pope St Leo the Great once wrote of Jesus: "He took the nature of a servant without stain of sin, enlarging our humanity without diminishing his divinity. He emptied himself; though invisible he made himself visible, though Creator and Lord of all things he chose to be one of us mortal men. Yet this was the condescension of compassion, not the loss of omnipotence. So he, who in the nature of God had created man, became in the nature of a servant, man himself."

God became the least of these. Will we? Will we allow the truth revealed in the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ to become our pattern for daily living? Will we cooperate with the grace of conversion and be emptied of ourselves for others? We are invited to experience this mystery of faith and to make it real during this Lent.

When we empty ourselves, He comes and takes up His residence within us. Then, we can become His arms, embracing the world; His legs, still walking its dusty streets; and His Heart, still beating with the Divine Compassion manifested in Jesus Christ, the One who became the least of these in order to bring all of us into the full communion of Love.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copyright 2015 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for February 2016
Universal:
That prisoners, especially the young, may be able to rebuild lives of dignity.
Evangelization: That married people who are separated may find welcome and support in the Christian community.



Comments


More Europe

Remains of St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, St. Leopold Mandic arrive in Rome for Jubilee of Mercy Watch

Image of The relics of the two saints were welcomed to St. Lawrence with a large celebration and procession into the basilica (CNS/Reuters).

By Elise Harris, CNA/EWTN News

The partially incorrupt body of Padre Pio has arrived to Rome for the first time ever alongside that of another friar, St. Leopold Mandic, as a special initiative for the Jubilee of Mercy. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - Urns containing the relics of Saint Padre ... continue reading


Seeking reconciliation, Pope Francis, and Russian Orthodox leader to meet in Cuba - for first time, ever Watch

Image of The meeting comes after years and decades of previous outreach efforts, which has prevented papal visits to Russia (AFP).

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

In the hopes of repairing a schism within Christianity, that dates back as far as the 11th Century, Pope Francis will meet with the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church in Cuba. The two branches have been estranged because of disagreements over papal authority - as ... continue reading


Woman takes toddler to join ISIS Watch

Image of Tareena Shakil took her toddler to Syria to join ISIS (PA).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Twenty-six-year-old Tareena Shakil told her family she would be vacationing in Turkey with her 14-month-old son. The next time her family heard from her, Shakil and her son were in Syria - and had joined the terrorist organization ISIS. LOS ANGELES, CA (California ... continue reading


Evidence of the Yeti? Footprints in Himalayan snow said to be of abominable snowman Watch

Image of Among the most elusive of all crypto-zoological creatures, the Abominable Snowman has had several eyewitness accounts. Some Russian fans here pose with an elaborate mock-up of the snowy creature (Lenta).

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The abominable snowman, or Yeti, remains one of the world's most elusive crypto-zoological figures. There have been many eyewitness reports of the hairy giant throughout the mountain ranges of the Himalayas for many years. A British man, on vacation in Bhutan, ... continue reading


'I should never have smiled at him': Nightclub owner bans migrants from club when language barrier leads to sexual harrassment Watch

Image of When women began to report migrants harassing them at his nightclub, Jensen decided to take action (Mads Flackner).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Tom Holden Jensen, the owner of a Danish nightclub, decided to ban all migrants who don't speak Danish, English or German from his Buddy Holly club in Søenderborg. The controversial decision was made after several women claimed they felt threatened and intimidated by ... continue reading


'Covering St.Peter's in an enormous box?' - Italians react to veiling of classical art for alien religion Watch

Image of Statues were covered in advance of Rouhani's visit to Rome, but not all of them.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Italians are upset that state officials covered ancient Roman statues to avoid offending Hassan Rouhani's sensibilities during his visit to Rome. The president of the Islamic Republic is on a tour of Europe to drum up trade following the lifting of sanctions on Iran. ... continue reading


The world recognizes International Holocaust Remembrance Day Watch

Image of International Holocaust Remembrance Day honors the memory of those who were lost (kosherKola).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

On November 1, 2005, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 60/7 to make January 27 the International Day of Commemoration in memory of Holocaust victims. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - January 27 is the anniversary of the liberation of the ... continue reading


Migrant worker in Sweden murdered at CHILD migrant center Watch

Image of Refugee violence in Europe continues to grow, as Alexandra Mezher [not pictured] is stabbed by suspected Somalian refugee.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

A 22-year-old migrant center worker was brutally stabbed to death outside the housing for unaccompanied migrants in Molndal, Sweden. Sadly, her death is one of several migrant-related crimes throughout Europe. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Daily Mail reported ... continue reading


You won't believe what a 'Christian Patrol' group experienced in Britain Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

A video has been released showing members of the group Britain First, marching through the Muslim stronghold of Bury Park, Luton, bearing crosses, and passing out Christian literature. There is the expected clash with the local Muslims ... and the results are ... continue reading


Iranian President Hassan Rouhani asks Pope Francis to pray for him Watch

Image of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani asked Pope Francis to pray for him (Getty Images).

By Monique Crawford (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

For the first time in 17 years, a pope and Iranian leader met for private talks at the Vatican. Each leader spoke of the responsibilities of religious communities and human rights. Their talks concluded with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani asking Pope Francis to pray ... continue reading


All Europe News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Sirach 47:2-11
2 As the fat is set apart from the communion sacrifice, so was David ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 18:31, 47, 50, 51
47 the God who gives me vengeance, and subjects whole peoples to ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 6:14-29
14 King Herod had heard about him, since by now his name was well known. ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for February 5th, 2016 Image

St. Agatha
February 5: Although we have evidence that Agatha was ... Read More