Experience the sovereignty of Jesus with St. Francis. | Custodia Terrae Sanctae

Experience the sovereignty of Jesus with St. Francis.

Today, Saturday, March 23, at Bethphage the Franciscans of the Custody of the Holy Land completed their Lenten pilgrimages to the sanctuaries of Jerusalem that are related to Christ's Passion.

Although the other pilgrimages are made on the Wednesdays of Lent, this last takes place on the Saturday before Palm Sunday in order to be able to celebrate the Eucharist there. The next day the Solemn Mass of Palms will be celebrated in the morning at the Holy Sepulchre, while in the afternoon the procession of pilgrims on foot winds down from the sanctuary to the gates of the Holy City.

The mass was concelebrated, with Custodial Vicar Fra Artemio Vitores presiding along with the guardian of the sanctuary, Fra Frantiszek Wiaters, and the custodial master of ceremonies, Fra Marcelo Cichinelli, as well as some twenty other priests standing before the friars of the seminary and the lay faithful who joined them. The readings and Fra Artemio's homily invited the assembly to meditate on the way in which Jesus meant to live his sovereignty. He, the King "without throne, without crown, without ermine", chose lowliness and humility. "What remained to him of the attributes of royalty," asked Fra Artemio. "Service and love… service in giving his life for us, in identifying with the poorest of the poor, with the smallest and the least." "Love, God's only strength."

When he arrived riding on an ass, the inhabitants of Jerusalem did not recognize the sovereignty of Jesus. "It is not enough," continued Fra Artemio, "to wave palm branches and sing hosanna Son Of David. We must, as St. Paul reminds us, ‘have the same attitude that is also ours in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 2:5). To live as a Christian is to serve and love one's brothers. Love is demonstrated in acceptance, in being with the other, in opening one's heart, in treating every person with. Living as a Christian is demonstrated in forgiveness and mercy. We must follow the example of Christ, who "went about doing good" (Acts 10:38).

This is the example that St. Francis left his disciples, the example that Pope Francis is renewing for the Church.

On this same day just before Mass began in the Bethphage sanctuary, a Christian community has already begun the Procession of Palms — a community of migrant workers, Indians living in Israel. Taking advantage of the Shabbat, their weekly day off, several hundreds of them met at the invitation of their chaplain Fra Jay to go to the city on foot.

Tomorrow the great week begins, Holy Week. In union with the Universal Church, the Custody of the Holy Land continues on the route to the Resurrection in the footsteps of Christ, literally and figuratively.