Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

3/25/2013 (1 year 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 (1 year 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'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for September 2014
Mentally disabled:
That the mentally disabled may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life.
Service to the poor: That Christians, inspired by the Word of God, may serve the poor and suffering.



Comments


More Europe

Marriage and Holiness: Pope Marries Twenty Couples on the Exaltation of the Cross Watch

Image of One of the twenty couples who exchanged their vows in the presence of Pope Francis

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Much of the Press, including circles of the Catholic Press, focused on the unique path which some of the couples followed to the Sacrament of Marriage; even though they had all arrived at the Altar, offering their love to the Source of all true Love, for ... continue reading


Pope Francis Gives Impassioned Plea for an End to War: What Does it Matter to Me? Watch

Image of Pope Francis walks inside the Austro-Hungarian cemetery at Fogliano in Redipuglia September 13, 2014. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

By Catholic Online

With this - What does it matter to me?-  in their hearts, the merchants of war perhaps have made a great deal of money, but their corrupted hearts have lost the capacity to cry.  That - What does it matter to me?- prevents the tears.  Cain did not ... continue reading


SOLVED AT LAST: DNA testing nails Polish emigre as JACK THE RIPPER! Watch

Image of Aaron Kosminski, inset, a hopelessly insane Polish immigrant - unable to care for himself and left in the care of relatives - was able to successfully evade justice as the dreaded Jack the Ripper of 19th Century London.

By Catholic Online - (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

London's most notorious serial killer, Jack the Ripper or "Springheel Jack" slashed and killed five prostitutes in the Whitechapel district in the 1880s. Never caught, countless theories sprung up over his identity through the 100-plus years. Some postulations ... continue reading


Rare U.S. coin discovered in Britain could fetch well above a million dollars at auction Watch

Image of Amateur treasure hunter, 42-year-old John Stoner had just begun to search a field in Nottinghamshire, England when he made a most remarkable discovery --

By Catholic Online - (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Amateur treasure hunter, 42-year-old John Stoner had just begun to search a field in Nottinghamshire, England when he made a most remarkable discovery. He uncovered a 350-year-old threepenny coin, used by America's Pilgrim Fathers. The rare coin is expected to ... continue reading


What is this mysterious ring in the Danish countryside and from whence did it come? Watch

Image of The Viking forts found so far in Denmark all match this particular style, which may mirror earlier Roman camps used in England.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Archaeologists working in Denmark have discovered a distinctive ring-shaped Viking fortress, which is thought by some historians to have been used to launch an invasion of England. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The fortress was found on Zealand, a Danish ... continue reading


Pope Francis Reminds Us the Church is Our Mother Watch

Image of St. Peters

By Pope Francis

The Church is our mother because she has delivered us in Baptism. Whenever a child is baptized, he becomes a son of the Church, from that day, he is in the Church which cares for him as a caring mother, she makes us grow in faith and shows us, with the power of ... continue reading


Where can they go? A million Ukrainians have fled their war-torn country Watch

Image of Ukrainian refugees at a Russian train station.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The United Nations has reported that the conflict in Ukraine, which began back in February 2014, has uprooted more than a million people, with even further mass displacement feared as fighting continues. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The total includes ... continue reading


Archaeologists find a very different type of 'treasure' - a 2,000-year-old toilet seat Watch

Image of Discovered at Vindolanda fort on Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland, the

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Accustomed to finding priceless coins, artwork and historical artifacts, archaeologists in Great Britain have found an altogether different type of treasure - one that was desperately needed in ancient times - a wooden toilet seat, believed to be 2,000 years ... continue reading


Over 1,400 girls raped and abused by Muslims in English town Watch

Image of For more than 12 years a large community of Pakistanis living in England have enjoyed sexually abusing girls while officials turned a blind eye a new report reveals.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Over a 12 year period, hundreds of children were systematically raped, beaten and sex trafficked in a northern English town, and the government commissioned report on the incident reveals that it is still going on today. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - This ... continue reading


Guilty? Corruption case moves forward against the head of International Monetary Fund Watch

Image of Christine Legarde, the chief of the International Monetary Fund, who is facing charges currently in France.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Christine Legarde, the chief of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and one of the most powerful women in the world, has been charged with "negligence" over a multi-million-euro graft case relating to her time as a French finance minister. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


All Europe News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Corinthians 12:12-14, 27-31
12 For as with the human body which is a unity ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 100:1-2, 3, 4, 5
1 [Psalm For thanksgiving] Acclaim Yahweh, all the ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 7:11-17
11 It happened that soon afterwards he went to a town ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 16th, 2014 Image

St. Cornelius
September 16: Cornelius whose feast day is September 16th. A Roman priest, ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter