Speaking after officiating at the Holy Thursday mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Port-of-Spain, Gilbert was asked his view on the debate about a racial imbalance. “My answer is very simple and I am not avoiding your question. If you leave the people alone, they get along fine. In my experience here, ten years now, if you let the people alone, they get along fine and leave it at that.”
Asked whether persons bringing their own agendas had an impact, Gilbert said this can, “sharpen things unnecessarily. In any country where there are mixed races, which is practically every country on earth, it is only when people raise the issue in a sharp context, whether it is political or financial or whatever, that this happens.”
He said the proof of this was the response to the issue from the public. According to Gilbert, “the reaction of the people was much better than some of the big shots.” At the Holy Thursday mass Gilbert washed the feet of 12 young men.
The Mass of the Lord’s Supper marked the “opening of the sacred Triduum” – the three days which mark Jesus’ death and resurrection. This is followed by the Easter Vigil today and ends with evening prayer on Easter Sunday. Delivering his homily before a large congregation Gilbert said the Catholic community around the world was also celebrating in the same way. He said the three mysteries of Holy Thursday were: the institution of the Eucharist, the institution of the Priesthood and Christ’s commandment to love one another. Gilbert said the liturgical celebrations were designed to help people remember and respond to God’s love for them.
He said the act of washing feet was symbolic of the disciples to love one another and serve one another, including a willingness to lay down one’s life for one’s neighbour.
Gilbert said this was done by the martyrs and Christians in the Middle East whose churches and schools were being destroyed. “They are willing to go to church in spite of it and lay their lives on the line in spite of it and to worship the Lord their God in spite of fear.”
Gilbert said hatred divides, love unites and forgiveness frees people. He said unless people show love and got involved in something “beyond” themselves, then their lives are empty.
Gilbert said, “they are bored, they are angry, they feel useless.” He identified ways people could get involved by praying for others such as assisting the sick or helping their priest.
Through actions, people show that they are a visible source of God’s love, forgiveness and embracing those who were weak and struggling, the Archbishop said.