Bishop Richard J. Malone, bishop of Buffalo, washed the feet of twelve men, women, and children at the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper at St. Joseph Cathedral Thursday.
"What we celebrate tonight is about someone who was not at all full of himself," said Bishop Malone referring to how Jesus washed the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper. The word kenosis is used to describe the self-emptying of one's own will and becoming entirely receptive to the will of God, said the bishop. "Jesus is about self-emptying love, love that pours itself out for the world and for others. Everything we celebrate tonight, and Good Friday, and at the East Vigil and Easter morning is about that self-emptying love."
Washing of the feet of, as the church has done for generations, is an imitation of the Lord to teach us that his self-emptying is something that we need to live in our own lives in different ways.
The Bishop reflected on how Jesus 'poured out' his body and blood at the Last Supper, and gave his life for us at Calvary, followed by the discovery of the empty tomb, and the announcement that Jesus had risen.
"And all of it is a manifestation of the depth of God's mercy and compassion for all of us."
Bishop Malone reflected on his days as a College chaplain, when he accompanied a group of college students to Mexico for a third world retreat. They stayed with a group of women religious who worked with the poor. Part of their ministry was to expose people from other parts of the developed world to the hardships people experience in that part of Mexico.
In one of the villages, 10,000 people had to share one water pipe in the center of town, where they would fill their jugs and buckets.
"A young mother said to me, 'Padre, come with me.'" She proceeded to take him through a series of alleys to a tiny cinder block building and pointed inside the window. "In there was a little box with a candle next to it and one flower in a vase, and the woman's face was radiant with joy. She said, 'We don't have much, but in the Eucharist, Jesus is always here with us, and we know that when we come to visit him he's delighted to see us."
The Holy Thursday Mass ended with Bishop Malone carrying the Body of Christ in a solemn procession to the Lady Chapel inside St. Joseph Cathedral, where the bishop said "We can remember, as did that beautiful very poor faith filled woman, that Jesus waits for us there and at every tabernacle and is always delighted to see us."