The Eucharist. Service. Anointing. The reality we live today in this liturgy is the Lord who wants to remain with us in the Eucharist. And we always become tabernacles of the Lord. We bear the Lord with us to the point that he himself tells us that if we do not eat his body and drink his blood, we will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. This is the mystery of the bread and wine of the Lord with us, in us, within us.
The service. That gesture that is a condition for entering the Kingdom of Heaven. Serve, yes, everyone, but the Lord — in that exchange of words he had with Peter — makes him understand that to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, we must let the Lord serve us, that the Servant of God is the servant of us. And this is difficult to understand. If I do not let the Lord be my servant, allow the Lord to wash me, to help me grow, to forgive me, I will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
And the priesthood. Today I would like to be close to priests. All of them — from the most recently ordained to the pope, we are all priests. The bishops, all … We are anointed, anointed by the Lord; anointed to offer the Eucharist, anointed to serve.
Today we did not have the Chrism Mass. I hope we will be able to have it before Pentecost, otherwise we will have to postpone it until next year. But I cannot let this Mass pass without mentioning the priests. Priests who offer their lives for the Lord, priests who are servants. In recent days, more than 60 have died here in Italy, in the care of the sick in hospitals, and also with doctors, nurses … They are “the saints next door,” priests who gave their lives by serving.
And I think of those who are far away. Today I received a letter from a priest, chaplain from a distant prison, in which he tells of how he lives this Holy Week with the prisoners. A Franciscan.
Priests who go far to bring the Gospel and die there. A bishop said that the first thing he did, when he arrived in these mission posts, was to go to the cemetery, to the grave of the priests who lost their lives there, young, by the local plague [local diseases]. They were not prepared, they had no antibodies. No one knows their names. Anonymous priests.
The country parish priests, who are parish priests of four, five, or seven villages in the mountains and go from one to the other, who know the people … Once, one told me that he knew the name of all the people of the villages. “Really?” I said to him. And he said to me: “Even the name of the dogs.” They know all. Priestly closeness.
Well done, good priests. Today I carry you in my heart and I bring you to the altar.
Slandered priests. Many times it happens today. They cannot go out on the street because bad things are said of them, in reference to the drama we have experienced with the discovery of priests who did ugly things. Some told me that they cannot leave the house with the clergyman because they are insulted, and they continue.
Sinful priests, who together with the bishops and the pope, a sinner, do not forget to ask for forgiveness. And learn to forgive because they know that they need to ask for forgiveness and to forgive. We are all sinners. Priests who suffer from crises, who do not know what to do, who are in the dark … Today all of you, brother priests, are with me on the altar.
You who are consecrated, I only tell you one thing: Do not be stubborn, like Peter. Allow your feet to be washed. The Lord is your servant. He is close to you to give you strength, to wash your feet.
And so, with this awareness of the need to be washed, to be great forgivers. Forgive. A great heart has generosity in forgiveness. It is the measure by which we will be measured. As you have forgiven, you will be forgiven: the same measure. Do not be afraid to forgive. Sometimes there are doubts … Look at Christ [look at the Crucifix]. There is everyone’s forgiveness.
Be brave, also in taking risks, in forgiving in order to console. And if you cannot give sacramental forgiveness at that moment, at least give the consolation of a brother who accompanies and leaves the door open for [that person] to return.
I thank God for the grace of the priesthood. We all [thank you]. I thank God for you, priests. Jesus loves you! He only asks that you allow him to wash your feet.