How many minutes does it take to make a good homily? This is a typical question that normally divides theological students at the end of every mass. The question sometimes is asked not only by theological student as we can always read it in the face many Christian whenever they are liberated after being trapped in a long and unending homily, which unfortunately characterizes most of our liturgical activities nowadays. It is really pathetic sometimes to be in a parish where average parishioners hardly understand English and the preacher go about moving from Greek to Latin and even sometimes to Hebrew just to show he passed many years in the Seminary. I am surely not saying that those are not necessary but the problem is that many at times, they are done in wrong places.
Yesterday, during the Holy Thursday mass, at the Regina Coeli, the Roman juvenile prison, Pope Francis made “a World record” of the most touching short homily ever. He preached for only three minutes.And I mean three minutes! But it was a three minutes homily full of signification.
The danger in this type of situation is to say that he is not the only person to make a short homily. That’s true but what made his three minutes preaching to win many souls was not only the limpidity of his words but also the gest that followed his sermon.
After this short homily, he took on a stole of the deacon, a stole of service, to concretize what he just said and went down not only washing the feet of the prisoners, but also kissing their feet after washing them. Here is the full text of the world record homily.
This is moving, Jesus washes the feet of his disciples. Peter understands nothing. He refuses but Jesus explains to him. Jesus, God did this, and He Himself explains it to the disciples.. ‘Do you realize what I have done to 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 to you, you should also do’.
It is the example set by Our Lord, it’s important for Him to wash their feet, because among us the one who is the highest must be at the service of others. This is a symbol, it is a sign – washing your feet means I am at your service. And we too, among each other, but we don’t have to wash each other’s feet everyday. But what does this mean? It means that we have to help each other Sometimes I would get angry with someone, but we must let it go and if the person asks a favour, do it!
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.
Now we will perform the ceremony of Washing of the Feet and each one of us must think, Am I really willing to help others? Just think of that. Think that this sign is Christ’s caress, because Jesus came just for this, to serve us, to help us.