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Pierre Mignard (1612-1695), “St. Charles Borromeo Ministering to Plague Victims”

A Gospel according to John 13:1-15

Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end. The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over. So, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Master, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.” Jesus said to him, “Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed,      for he is clean all over; so you are clean, but not all.” For he knew who would betray him; for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.” So when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’  and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

REFLECTION: "So that as I have done for you, you should also do."

Holy Thursday is here, and there is so much to be said, books upon books have been written about this day.

Holy Thursday is the day the first Mass was said during the last supper. But right before that, Jesus institutes the priesthood.

The first thing He does is to wash His disciples' feet. They are astonished, and at first Peter refuses. Washing someone's feet is slave labor. This is one of the reasons Peter at first refuses to be washed. And then, in usual St. Peter's fashion, he gets carried away.

Jesus not only institutes the priesthood but the disciples became the first Bishops of the Church. Even more, one of them became His Vicar: St. Peter.

Further down the Gospel Jesus tells His disciples: " I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do."

He is giving them a great responsibility with His example of service and humility: to lead, one must serve first.

Today all the Bishops around the world are facing extremely tough decisions. Their credibility has been deeply damaged by the sexual abuse scandal. And now, out of concern for the safety of their flock, they have listened to the experts and closed the churches and have ordered suspension of the administration of Holy Communion to the faithful.

It is extremely easy to criticize someone in the public eye. Darn if they do, darn if they don't.

Until we know more about covid-19, it is understandable why the Bishops and the Pope have sided with caution.

Thankfully, many legislators have deemed churches as essential services. So many priests have setup adoration chapels that can be seen from a parking lot; parking lot confessions; and have brought back Jesus in the monstrance on public processions.

Once a patient is admitted to the hospital, visits are no longer permitted for anybody.

I do wonder, and ask any priest reading this blog, how is the viaticum administered?

I know the Holy Father has granted plenary indulgence to those stricken with covid-19. Does the same apply to the Apostolic pardon?

How about the institutions like St. Vincent de Paul that help the hungry and the needy? And foster/adoption services?

Many victims of abuse are now locked with their abusers, with no way for them to escape.

I believe we can ask these questions in a respectful manner to our priests and Bishops, specially if the lock downs continue longer than the end of this month. We must help them serve the poor and the needy, strengthen and assure the laity, help all be courageous, and be saints.

Let us offer our PAPA Prayer for all the Bishops of the world: Especially the Bishop in our diocese.

St. Charles Borromeo ~ Intercede for all the Bishops.

St. Charles Borromeo is mostly known as the author of the first Roman Catholic catechism, in his day he was venerated for his compassion towards the people of Milan during the famine  and plague outbreak of 1576–1577.  

At that time St. Charles Borromeo was the Archbishop of Milan. He provided critical governance and care to the suffering people when the  governor and many of the nobility fled the growing humanitarian crisis.  He issued guidelines to control the plague outbreak, organized  makeshift hospitals, used his own vast fortune to provide food for the  hungry, and personally attended the poor and sick.  

Most importantly though, he took steps to ensure spiritual help, assistance to the sick and the burial of the dead. Unafraid of being infected, he paid in person, by visiting hospitals, leading penitential processions, being everything to everyone, like a father and true shepherd” 

He never contracted the plague and credited his generally healthy nature to a regular regimen of fasting and prayer.

For more on St. Charles Borromeo and the plague of Milan click HERE


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