One of the hallmarks of Pope Francis’s papacy is the idea of “servant leadership.” He continually reminds us, through his words and his deeds that true leadership is about service. This is evident in particular in his Holy Thursday liturgies, where he takes care to wash the feet not only of ordained priests, as is often the custom; not only of men, as often is the custom; not only of Catholics, which is often the custom; but of all. He has washed the feet, for example, of Muslim women. The true leader is the servant of all.

In today’s Gospel, as Jesus places a child by his side, he reminds his disciples of the virtue of humility, simplicity and littleness. It’s not something that’s very popular today. It wasn’t popular among the disciples, either, who argued about who was the greatest. But littleness is a big part of the Christian life.

—Fr. James Martin, SJ, is the author of our special series of reflections in honor of Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S. Fr. Martin is associate editor of America magazine; a frequent commentator in the media; and author of many books, including, most recently, Jesus: A Pilgrimage and his novel The Abbey.