A Catholic bishop washed and kissed the feet of “new missionaries”, including a nun from the beleaguered country of Myanmar, during Holy Thursday celebrations in Manila, reported CBCP News.
Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila washed the feet of Sr. Venus Marie Pegar of the Sisters of St. Francis Xavier (SFX) as a symbol of solidarity with the people of Myanmar as the nation grapples with a military coup.
“We stand with the people of Myanmar in their struggle for democracy and peace,” Pabillo said in his homily at the Manila Cathedral.
SFX is a religious congregation established by French Bishop Alexandre Cardot of Yangon in 1897.
Pope Francis has earlier appealed for an end to bloodshed in the Southeast Asian nation where more than 500 anti-coup protesters have been killed after the military seized power on Feb. 1.
“Blood does not solve anything. Dialogue must prevail,” said the pope, who visited Myanmar in 2017.
Holy Thursday’s ritual replicated the Bible’s account of Jesus’ gesture of humility and service towards his 12 apostles on the night before he was crucified.
After the homily, Pabillo washed the feet of four persons with background relevant to this year’s commemoration of the 500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines.
Aside from the nun, those whose feet were washed by Pabillo included an Augustinian friar, a lay catechist, and a church media worker.
The celebration also coincides with the ongoing Year of Missio ad Gentes, “acknowledging our mission as Filipinos and our call to be missionaries to Asia and the world”.
Jesus’ gesture of washing his disciples’ feet, an act reserved to servants and slaves, is showing all Christians how he wants them to serve others, Pabillo said.
“We are gifted by Jesus with his body and blood, let us also give to others by serving them and sharing with them,” he added.
The government has earlier placed Metro Manila and nearby provinces under strict lockdown, wherein mass gatherings, including public religious services are prohibited.
The measure imposed amid a surge in Covid-19 infections will last until April 4, Easter Sunday.