Feet WashingI am make no apology for returning to the same theme from last week's posting. The discussion of feet -washing as "an act on intimate love" argued the case for the more general sharing of this pastoral action and, in particular, for the inclusion of both men, and women.

When Papa Francesco visited the young men and women in the juvenile detention centre in Rome he gave a message that has reverberated round the world, not only for his action of kneeling to wash a stranger's feet, but for the inclusivity of what he did. Here is a Bishop who leads by example, who says much with few words, who looks for simplicity for himself and by implication asks us to do the same.

Dare we think that the vision of the Church that came from the Council is at last being considered, a Church that is open to the world rather than inwardly turned to its own structures?

One of the folk hymns from the Sixties, "Go Tell Everyone" has the line "you don't need two shirts for your back, a workman can earn his own keep". Maybe there is something of that in the rejection by Francis of the papal apartments and his choice of a simpler style of vestment. We indeed have much to learn from a man whose life has been Gospel -lived.

The fear of going beyond the strict rules and instructions should not, and in fact cannot be, a Christ-pattern for relationships. Being there, caring, loving, nurturing others, whoever they may be, is an essential living-through of our baptism.

A few days back, on Palm Sunday, not only did we celebrate the Lord's arrival in Jerusalem on a donkey, but remembered the murder of Archbishop Oscar Romero in El Salvador. Just previous to his death he had been offered extra protection but he refused. He said that the poor did not have that option, why should he? The examples of how we might live last beyond fine phrases and eloquent words. Our just being there says so much.

So this Easter, the act of washing feet has taken on a whole new dimension and we have been made to ask questions that go beyond the rule book to
the very heart of the Christian message. And the response to those questions ? Love one another.

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