Pope on Holy Thursday: 'The Lord never tires of forgiving'

At the Mass of the Lord's Supper at the women's section of Rebibbia prison in Rome, Pope Francis reminds us to never tire of asking the Lord for forgiveness and learning to serve as He did.

Mar 29, 2024

By Lisa Zengarini
Continuing his custom of celebrating the Mass of the Lord’s Supper in a prison, Pope Francis visited the female section of the Rebibbia correctional facility in Rome on Holy Thursday afternoon.

He presided over Mass and the ritual of the washing of the feet for dozens of inmates, guards, chaplains and officials gathered in an outdoor area of the prison.

In his brief off-the-cuff homily, the Pope focused on two episodes of Jesus’ Last Supper on the eve of His Passion.

The path of service
During the meal, Jesus humbled Himself to wash the feet of the disciples.

By doing so, Pope Francis explained, “He makes us understand what He meant when He said: ‘I did not come to be served, but to serve’.”

That humble gesture, said the Pope, “teaches us the path of service.”

Jesus always forgives
Pope Francis then spoke about the betrayal of Judas, motivated by greed and selfishness. Judas’ story, the Pope said, shows us that the Lord always forgives our sins, and “He only asks that we ask for forgiveness.”

Indeed, he insisted, "Jesus never tires of forgiving: we are the ones who get tired of asking for forgiveness."

“We all have our small or big failures – everyone has their own story. But the Lord always awaits us, with His arms open, and never tires of forgiving.”

Concluding Pope Francis, therefore, encouraged the faithful to ask the Lord for the grace not to tire of imploring His forgiveness, and to make us grow in the vocation to serve.

Washing of the feet of twelve inmates
Following the homily, Pope Francis washed the feet of twelve women prisoners of different nationalities.

At the conclusion of the Mass, he met with the inmates and staff of the penitentiary and was greeted with farm products produced in the facility, along with a rainbow-colored rosary made with crochet and pearls, two stoles with the image of two welcoming hands, and a sunflower, made by the inmates working in the necklace and sewing workshops in the prison.

The Pope gave the director and staff of Rebibbia a painting of the Madonna he had received as a gift.

Pope Francis' first visit to Rebibbia prison in 2015
Pope Francis has celebrated Holy Thursday Mass at a prison, care facility, or refugee centre since becoming Pope in 2013, while his recent predecessors customarily washed the feet of priests in St. Peter's Basilica or the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome.

This was his second visit to the Rebibbia complex on this occasion. He first went there in 2015, meeting male and female prisoners and washing the feet of 12 inmates and a toddler.--Vatican News

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