Saturday, March 30, 2013

It is Easter again when a religious holiday makes us all stop our busy lives for a day to reflect on how we can be a better person. We pause to really notice the children we are lucky enough to have in our lives. So we buy them bunnies and chocolates to enjoy just for a day. We buy the women in our lives beautiful plants and flowers to celebrate the beginning of a new season filled with aromatic fragrances from things grown out of the earth.
We feel humbled when we read the script of how Jesus suffered and died on the cross to save us. He didn’t have to die such an awful death. He is the son of God and could have led a kingly life here on earth. Instead he was a simple man who spent most of his years here being humble and helping people wherever he went. He only died because the existing leaders were jealous of his powers. Read the Old Testament of the Bible to understand all the miracles he did.
In the Vatican the closest person we have to God is the chosen man by other religious leaders, the Cardinals, called the Pope. For hundreds of years the Pope whoever he is, usually led a very rich and kingly life surrounded by lots of gold and jewels and living like royalty. Our recent Pope decided to do the unthinkable and walk away from his leadership; something that hasn’t been done in 600 years. He also walked away during the most important time of the year when Catholics all over the world reflect and feel all the suffering Jesus endured for us. We feel insignificant and learn to be more tolerant during this time of the year.
While the leaders during the time Jesus walked the earth were selfish and pompous we can feel that the past Pope and many religious leaders have failed us too. We have to consider him leaving us a blessing now because they have chosen now a very different kind of Pope. He even took on a name that no Pope has taken in the history of Popes. He is now Pope Francis the first.
Sometimes great change can be revealed in small gestures. This week Pope Francis knelt on the stone floor of a detention facility in Rome to wash and kiss the feet of 12 young inmates. Other popes have carried out this rite on Holy Thursday. It is a ceremony to emulate the way Jesus washed the feet of his 12 apostles at the Last Supper, just before he was tried and crucified.
But previous popes have washed the feet of priests in Rome's grand, golden St. John Lateran Basilica. Pope Francis went to a penitentiary to wash the feet of prisoners. They ranged in age from 14 to 21; many have had rough lives of struggle on the streets of Rome. The young offenders wore prison-issue jeans, and you could see tattoos on the ankles of a few when they inched up their pants so their feet could be washed by the pope, and dried with a plain towel before he kissed them. "This is a symbol, it is a sign," Pope Francis told them. "Washing your feet means I am at your service."
A few of the inmates were reportedly Roma. A few were Muslim. And two were women, which attracted attention because it seems to violate what are called "liturgical norms. "But when Francis was the archbishop of Buenos Aires, he often washed the feet of prison inmates and patients in hospitals, including women. It would have been possible for Pope Francis to undertake some study to eventually issue a liturgical decree to announce a change in ritual. But instead, as Father Charles Faso, a Franciscan friar in Chicago told us, "Pope Francis just did it. As Jesus 'just did it' touching people and talking with people who were excluded by law from human touch and care."
I think his simple gestures like this gives us all hope to treat others as we would like to be treated. Use your day called Easter Sunday to be good to someone. Make the smile somehow. Touch them in a way they are not used to being touched and get away from your usual self and be different towards others and truly do something kind and caring. What can go wrong? Nothing, it is all good. Be good to someone.

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