FROM the Vatican to the archdiocese of Manila, throughout Christendom, reverberates the message of humility and healing highlighted in today’s Maundy Thursday rites.
Last Thursday at the Vatican, Pope Francis sent the same message when, to the surprise of everyone present, he knelt down and kissed the shod feet of South Sudan’s previously warring leaders during a two-day spiritual retreat.
“I am asking you as a brother to stay in peace. I am asking you with my heart, let us go forward,” the 82-year-old leader of the world’s 1.3-billion Catholics told President Salva Kiir and his rival, the former rebel leader Riek Machar, whose clash in 2013 led to a civil war that left 400,000 people dead.
Around 30 percent of South Sudan’s estimated 10 million population are Catholic. Machar returns home to serve as President Kiir’s deputy while the African country transitions under a peace pact signed last year. (In the Philippines, Catholics comprise some 81 percent of the population.)
The message of humility and pacifism hews to the Christian teaching to “turn the other cheek” when bullied or persecuted. A close political application was in Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent civil disobedience campaign in the 1940s that helped end British colonial rule in India.
At the Manila cathedral last Palm Sunday, as the faithful recalled the triumphant entry of Christ to Jerusalem, archbishop Chito Cardinal Tagle dwelled in his homily on the same theme of humility being the best response to violence and persecution.
Talking in Pilipino, Tagle said that the response of Christ to those who arrested and maltreated him was healing. It is easier, he said, for people to follow other prideful “kings” and “messiahs” over Christ who humbles himself – but urged that Christ’s example be followed even if difficult.
Humility and service to the least of our brethren will continue to be highlighted today in the reenactment of the Washing of the Feet of the apostles during their mandating at the Last Supper, a day before Christ was crucified.
• Cardinal to wash feet of 12 youths
CARDINAL Tagle will wash the feet of 12 youth representatives today as part of the Lenten observance of Maundy Thursday at the Manila Cathedral. The same rite will be performed in other parishes.
The dozen young adults will include one with cerebral palsy, two foreign missionaries, and a delegate to the Vatican youth synod in October 2018. They come from “different backgrounds and experiences” and were chosen in line with the Church’s observance of the Year of the Youth.
In view of the coming May 13 midterm elections, the cardinal will also wash the feet of a poll watcher volunteer and a first-time voter.
In the past, Tagle washed the feet of migrants, women, Muslims, government officials, policemen and drug dependents who had turned themselves in.
The dozen youths in today’s rites were identified by CBCP News as:
* Nicole Anne Perez, 23, a call center agent and active member of the Parish Youth Ministry of San Roque Parish in Mandaluyong City. She was picked by Pope Francis to participate in the 2018 Synod of Bishops on Young People.
* Rafael Villegas, 22, a freshman taking up Economics at the Universidad de Manila. He is a volunteer of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting of the National Shrine of St. Michael and the Archangels in San Miguel, Manila.
* Luna Mirafuentes, 18, a college student who will vote for the first time on May 13. She is a member of the Parish Youth Ministry and the Ministry of Greeters and Collectors at San Fernando de Dilao Parish, Paco, Manila.
* Carlito Sapunto, a church volunteer suffering from cerebral palsy. He is also an awarded player of the sport boccia, a ball sport played by people with disability bound to wheelchairs.
* Jeffrey Ranola, 25, a youth ministry worker from Parola, Tondo, Manila.
* Sr. Antonisa, MC, 26, a nun of the Missionaries of Charity. She is from Bangladesh and has been in the Philippines for the past five years taking care of poor and abandoned children in the Alay ng Puso House in Del Pan, Binondo, Manila.
* Joel Obreo, 23, a missionary from India who has been in Manila for 10 months now. He has been working for the Ligaya ng Panginoon Community and Christ Youth in Action.
* John Rey Nevado, 20, the only child of a security guard and a housewife. He graduated summa cum laude from De La Salle – College of St. Benilde with the degree in Business Administration, Major in Computer Applications, with specialization in Business Analytics. He is the only summa cum laude among Benilde’s graduates this year.
* Jenezis Caliwag, 25, a staff of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene or Quiapo Church. A devotee, he works closely with the Hijos de Nazareno, especially with regard to their spiritual formation. He is also a campus youth animator in St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Novaliches.
* Mr. and Mrs. Ferdinand John and Daisy Jane Azogue, both 31, married last month. Ferdinand John works as a medical representative in Alabang, Muntinlupa, and Daisy Jane is a hotel employee. They said their faith in God has strengthened their relationship and love for each other.
* Jinky Pelopero, 21, a college student at Colegio de San Juan de Letran. She stays with the sisters of Colegio de Santa Rosa in Intramuros and is an active member of the Ministry of Greeters and Collectors of the Manila Cathedral.