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Pope Francis knelt and kissed the feet of South Sudan’s rival leaders last Thursday in an unprecedented act of humbleness to encourage them to strengthen the African country’s faltering peace process.
At the close a two-day retreat in the Vatican for the African leaders, the pope asked South Sudan’s president and opposition leader to proceed with the peace agreement despite growing difficulties. Then he got down on his knees and kissed the leaders’ feet one by one.
‘I express my heartfelt hope that hostilities will finally cease, that the armistice will be respected, that political and ethnic divisions will be surmounted, and that there will be a lasting peace for the common good of all those citizens who dream of beginning to build the nation,’ the pope said of South Sudan in his closing statement.
People were moved to tears as the elderly pope struggled to get down on his knees to kiss the feet of two rival leaders.
He did it to bring peace.
During the last week of Jesus’ life, he too got down on his knees and he washed the feet of his disciples.
Jesus adopted the role of servant to do this menial task of washing feet, which would be less than fragrant having shared the same streets with camels and donkeys who were not exactly house-trained.
Jesus also wished to bring peace, to show that we are all equal in the eyes of God.
Today we stand silent as we think of Jesus dying to show how much God loved us.
But on Sunday morning, as we see once again those footprints in the dew, we rejoice that our Lord is risen – to show how much God loves us.