The South Bronx has been the stage to many of New York City’s most fascinating stories; from the thick smoke of the 1970s when the borough was engulfed in flames, to the tales of the famous 44th Precinct, dubbed Fort Apache, to the home of the New York Yankees and the birthplace of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal back in the early 1980’s.
From their humble origins, the Friars and Sisters landed here following in the footsteps of St. Francis and Mother Teresa in their mission to serve Christ in those most in need of compassion and care. In this “Calcutta” of the city, the scourge of poverty and all the related challenges are met with love and respect by the Friars and Sisters whose spirituality is lived out every day amongst the poor and homeless.
And on Holy Thursday, the Friars opened their doors to those seeking the love of Christ to invite them to participate in the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.
Those present commemorated the day when Jesus demonstrated the way we are to love one another in the washing of the Apostles feet and spoke these words that have a powerful meaning to all Christians. :
“I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
As the Celebrant washed the feet of those present, a renewed call to holiness flowed through the actions for all to witness.
The men and women who live out their call in this humble friary in the South Bronx are a living testimony to these words. And while the celebration of the day recalls the edict of selfless love in a beautiful way, they are no strangers to the daily practice of this in this real world setting in the alleys of the South Bronx.
So around the world this evening the example is set before us. “Love one another, as I have loved you…” A renewed call to embrace the love that Christ has offered to us and a renewed call to offer this same love to others without exception, without condition…just as Christ does so for us.