Before washing the feet of 12 inmates, Pope Francis told them and other prisoners that God never tires of forgiving anyone who asks.
When Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, including the feet of Judas, who would betray him, it was a sign that God will wait patiently for everyone and will forgive everything, the pope said in his homily April 14 at a prison in Civitavecchia, northwest of Rome.
“Each of us, perhaps, has something in his heart that he has been carrying for some time,” that agitates him, “some little skeleton hidden in the closet,” the pope said. “But ask Jesus for forgiveness. He forgives everything.”
The pope celebrated the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper at the prison and washed the feet of 12 inmates — men and women of different ages and nationalities, according to the Vatican press office.
The only thing Jesus asks of people is “our trust to ask for forgiveness,” the pope said. “You can do it when you are alone, when you are with other companions, when you are with the priest.”
Pope Francis encouraged the inmates to pray: “Lord, forgive me. I will try to serve others, but you serve me with your forgiveness.”
“There is a Lord who judges,” the pope told them, “but it’s a strange judgment: The Lord judges and forgives.”
The Mass was private, but the Vatican released the pope’s homily, some photographs and a video clip.
Every Holy Thursday we read this passage from the Gospel: it is a simple thing. Jesus, with his friends, his disciples is at supper, the Passover supper; Jesus washing the feet of his disciples – strange thing he did: at that time the slaves washed their feet at the entrance to the house. And then, Jesus – with a gesture that also touches the heart – washes the feet of the traitor, the one who sells him. So is Jesus and he teaches us this, simply: among you, you must wash your feet. It is the symbol: among you, you must serve yourselves; one serves the other, without interest. How nice it would be if this were possible to do it every day and for all people: but there is always interest, which is like a snake that enters. And we are shocked when we say: “I went to that public office, they made me pay a tip”. This hurts, because it is not good. And U.S, many times, in life we look for our interest, as if we were making a tip pay between us. Instead, it is important to do everything without interest: one serves the other, one is the brother of the other, one makes the other grow, one corrects the other, and so you have to keep things going. To serve! And then, the heart of Jesus, who to the traitor says: “Friend” and he too awaits him, until the end: he forgives everything. I would like to put this today in the hearts of all of us, even in mine: God forgives until the end: forgive everything. I would like to put this today in the hearts of all of us, even in mine: God forgives until the end: forgive everything. I would like to put this today in the hearts of all of us, even in mine: God forgives everything and God always forgives! We are the ones who get tired of asking for forgiveness. And each of us, perhaps, has something there in his heart, which he has been carrying for some time, which makes him “ron-ron”, some skeleton hidden in the closet. But, ask Jesus for forgiveness: He forgives everything. He alone wants our confidence to ask for forgiveness. You can do it when you are alone, when you are with other companions, when you are with the priest. This is a beautiful prayer for today: “But, Lord, forgive me. I will try to serve others, but You serve me with Your forgiveness ”. Thus he paid with forgiveness. This is the thought that I would like to leave you. Serve, help one another, and be sure the Lord forgives. And how much does he forgive him? All! And up to where? All time! He never tires of forgiving: it is we who tire of asking for forgiveness.
And now, I will try to do the same gesture that Jesus did: wash the feet. I do it from the heart because we priests should be the first to serve others, not exploit others. Clericalism sometimes leads us down this path. But we must serve. This is a sign, also a sign of love for these brothers and sisters and for all of you here; a sign that means: “I don’t judge anyone. I try to serve everyone ”. There is One who judges, but he is a somewhat strange Judge, the Lord: he judges and forgives. We follow this ceremony with the desire to serve and forgive ourselves.