After a brief meeting with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Pope Francis visited the Church of All Nations in Gethsemane. Hundreds of priests, seminarians and religious people living in the Holy Land greeted him with cheers as he made his way in.
The Church of All Nations is the place where, according to tradition, Jesus prayed before his arrest and Crucifixion. In that very same place, Pope Francis asked his audience to reflect on this episode of the Passion of Christ.
"Here, in this place, each of us – bishops, priests, consecrated persons, and seminarians – might do well to ask: Who am I, before the sufferings of my Lord?”
While Jesus was praying in deadly anguish, the Pope continued, some of his disciples fell asleep and others, like Peter, denied him out of fear.
Highlighting the example of Our Lady and Saint John the Apostle, he explained that the only thing needed to remain with Jesus during trying times is His friendship.
"Jesus’ friendship with us, his faithfulness and his mercy, are a priceless gift which encourages us to follow him trustingly, despite our failures, our mistakes and betrayals notwithstanding”.
That's why, according to the Pope, Christians should never loose faith in Christ, because He is always by their side.
The last words of his homily were addressed in particular to Christians living in Jerusalem: Pope Francis thanked them their presence in the city.
"I would like to tell you that I remember you tenderly and that I pray for you, being aware of the difficulties faced living in the city. I encourage you to be brave witnesses of Our Lord's Passion, with joy and hope.”
Once the gathering finished and before celebrating Mass at the Cenacle, Pope Francis planted an olive tree just like Paul VI did back in 1964.