No one really knows what to make of Pope Francis yet, but the Easter liturgy will give us an opportunity to scrutinize him during the Christian Super Bowl. The liturgy actually takes place across three days, known as the “Triduum”: the Mass on Thursday evening commemorating the Last Supper, the veneration of the cross on Good Friday (the only day in the Catholic calendar upon which no Mass is celebrated), and the big shazam finale during the Easter Vigil on Saturday night.
Francis has completed one of the three so far, and it is a humdinger. Breaking with tradition completely, he performed the traditional foot washing ritual in an Italian jail, and among the 12 people whose feet he washed and kissed in imitation of Christ were two women. That’s never happened before; although priests in a parish near you have been washing women’s feet on Holy Thursday since forever and breakfast, popes have not. Many people in the church are sticklers about this kind of thing.
Francis does not appear to care. Even more shocking is that one of the women is a Muslim.
Everyone should take a deep breath and read the ex tempore homily Francis gave before the foot-washing began, because that probably offers more insight into his thinking than hysterical imaginings of circle-the-wagons types:
“Help one another. This is what Jesus teaches us. This is what I do. And I do it with my heart. I do this with my heart because it is my duty, as a priest and bishop I must be at your service. But it is a duty that comes from my heart and a duty I love. I love doing it because this is what the Lord has taught me. But you too must help us and help each other, always. And thus in helping each other we will do good for each other.”
Oh my goodness, a Christian on the throne of St. Peter. What is the world coming to??