Last week civil and ecclesiastical authorities of South Sudan participated in a 2-day religious and ecumenical retreat at the Vatican in an effort to end the country’s civil war.  Organized by the Vatican Secretariat of State and the Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the retreat ended with Pope Francis speaking and then kneeling to kiss the shoes of each participant. The gesture reminds us that Jesus’ example of and call to service binds us as it did the first disciples.  In the midst of suffering, Jesus offered forgiveness, promised eternal life and ensured  that his mother would have a home and that his disciples would know the consolation of a mother.  As we anticipate our Easter celebration, let us pray for South Sudan and for all people whose lives are threatened by violence and let us rise to those occasions where we can be instruments of unity and peace.