Good Shepherd



Pope Francis  11.05.14 Holy Mass with Priestly Ordinations, Vatican Basilica      4th Sunday of Easter Year A       John 10: 1-10

Pope Francis Priestly Ordinations 11.05.14

Beloved Brothers,

These our sons and brothers have been called to the dignity of the Priesthood. As you well know, the Lord Jesus is the one and only Great High Priest of the New Testament; but in him, God has made his entire holy people a royal priesthood. Nevertheless, among his disciples, the Lord Jesus wills to choose certain ones to carry out a priestly office publicly in the Church, in his name and on behalf of mankind, in order that they may continue his personal mission as Teacher, Priest and Shepherd.

After mature deliberation, we are about to elevate these, our brothers, to the Order of the Presbyterate, so that in service to Christ the Teacher, Priest and Shepherd, they may cooperate in building up the Body of Christ, which is the Church, into the People of God, a holy temple of the Spirit.

Indeed, in being configured to Christ the eternal High Priest, and joined to the priesthood of their Bishop, they will be consecrated as true priests of the New Testament, to preach the Gospel, to shepherd God’s people, to preside at worship, and especially to celebrate the Lord’s Sacrifice.

For your part, most beloved brothers and sons, who are about to be raised to the Order of the Priesthood, consider that in exercising the ministry of sacred doctrine you will share in the mission of Christ, the one Teacher. Impart to everyone the Word which you have received from your mothers, from your catechists. Diligently read and meditate on the Word of the Lord that you may believe what you read, teach what you have learned in faith, and practice what you teach. May the People of God be nourished by your teaching, which is not your own: you are not masters of doctrine! It is the Lord’s doctrine, and you must be faithful to the doctrine of the Lord!

In this way, may what you teach be nourishment for the People of God. Let the delightful fragrance of your life be a joy and support to Christ’s faithful, so that by word and example you may build up God’s house which is the Church.

Likewise you will continue the sanctifying work of Christ. For by your ministry the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful will be made perfect, being united to the Sacrifice of Christ, which will be offered through your hands on behalf of the whole Church in an unbloody manner on the altar, in the celebration of the sacred mysteries.

Understand, therefore, what you do and imitate what you celebrate so that, participating in the Mystery of the Lord’s death and Resurrection, you may bear the death of Christ in your members and walk with him in newness of life.

Through Baptism you gather new faithful into the People of God; through the Sacrament of Penance you forgive sins in the name of Christ and the Church. And here I want to pause to ask you, for the love of Jesus Christ: never tire of being merciful! Please! Have the ability to forgive that the Lord had, who came not to condemn but to forgive! Be greatly merciful! And if you have scruples about being too “forgiving”, think of that holy priest about whom I have told you, who went before the Tabernacle and said: “Lord, pardon me if I have forgiven too much, but it is you who have set me a bad example!”. And I tell you, truly: it grieves me when I come across people who no longer confess because they have been beaten and scolded. They have felt as though the church doors were being closed in their faces! Please, do not do this: mercy, mercy! The Good Shepherd enters through the door, and the doors of mercy are the wounds of the Lord: if you do not enter into your ministry through the Lord’s wounds, you will not be good shepherds.

With Chrism oil you will comfort the sick; in celebrating the sacred rites and raising up the prayer of praise and supplication at various hours of the day, you will become the voice of the People of God and of all humanity.

Remembering that you have been chosen from among men and constituted on their behalf to attend to the things of God, exercise the priestly ministry of Christ with joy and genuine love, with the sole intention of pleasing God and not yourselves.And consider what St Augustine said regarding pastors who seek to please themselves, who use God’s sheep to feed and clothe themselves, to invest themselves with the majesty of a ministry they knew not whether it was of God. Finally, participating in the mission of Christ, Head and Shepherd, in filial communion with your Bishop, seek to bring the faithful together into one single family, so that you may lead it to God the Father through Christ in the Holy Spirit. Keep always before your eyes the example of the Good Shepherd who came not to be served but to serve, and who came to seek out and save those that were lost.





Pope Francis   11.05.14 Regina Caeli, St Peter's Square      4th Sunday of Easter Year A      John 10: 1-10


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

The Evangelist John presents us, on this Fourth Sunday of the Easter Season, with the image of Jesus the Good Shepherd. In contemplating this page of the Gospel, we can understand the kind of relationship that Jesus had with his disciples: a relationship based on tenderness, love, mutual knowledge and the promise of an immeasurable gift: “I came”, Jesus said, “that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:10). This relationship is the model for relations between Christians and for human relationships.

Today, too, as in the time of Jesus, many put themselves forward as “shepherds” of our lives; but only the Risen One is the true Shepherd, who gives us life in abundance. I invite everyone to place their trust in the Lord who guides us. But he not only guides us: he accompanies us, he walks with us. Let us listen to his Word with minds and hearts opened, to nourish our faith, enlighten our conscience and follow the teaching of the Gospel.

On this Sunday let us pray for the Shepherds of the Church, for all Bishops, including the Bishop of Rome, for all priests, for everyone! We pray especially for the new priests of the Diocese of Rome, whom I ordained a short while ago in St Peter’s Basilica. A greeting to these 13 priests! May the Lord help us pastors always to be faithful to the Master and wise and enlightened guides of the People of God, entrusted to us. I also ask you to please help us: help us to be good shepherds. Once I read something very beautiful on how the People of God help the bishops and priests to be good shepherds. It is a writing of St Caesarius of Arles, a Father of the first centuries of the Church. He explained how the People of God must help the pastor, and he gave this example: when a calf is hungry it goes to the cow, its mother, to get milk. The cow, however, does not give it right away: it seems that she withholds it. And what does the calf do? It knocks with its nose at the cow’s udder, so that the milk will come. It is a beautiful image! “So also you must be with your pastors”, this saint said: always knock at their door, at their hearts, that they may give you the milk of doctrine, the milk of grace and the milk of guidance.

And I ask you, please, bother the pastors, disturb the pastors, all of us pastors, so that we might give you the milk of grace, doctrine and guidance. Bother them! Think of that beautiful image of the little calf, how it bothers its mother so that she might give it something to eat.

In imitation of Jesus, every pastor “will sometimes go before his people, pointing the way and keeping their hope vibrant. At other times, he will simply be in their midst with his unassuming and merciful presence. At yet other times, he will have to walk after them, helping those who lag behind” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, n. 31). May all pastors be so! But you must bother your pastors so that they may provide the guidance of doctrine and grace.

This Sunday is the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. In this year’s Message I recalled that “every vocation, even within the variety of paths, always requires an exodus from oneself in order to centre one’s life on Christ and on his Gospel” (n. 2). Therefore, the call to follow Jesus is both exciting and challenging. In order that it may be realized, it is always necessary to enter into deep friendship with the Lord in order to live from Him and for Him.

Let us pray that also, in these times, many young people may hear the voice of the Lord, which is always in danger of being suffocated by the clamour of other voices. Let us pray for young people: perhaps there is someone here in the Square who hears the voice of the Lord calling him to the priesthood; let us pray for him, if he is here, and for all young people who are being called.




Pope Francis   23.11.14  Holy Mass, Peters Square     Rite of Canonization of Blesseds    Exodus 34: 11-12, 15-17,    1 Corinthians 15: 20-26, 28,   Matthew 25: 31-46

Solemnity of Christ, King of the Universe Last Sunday Year A

Pope Francis  Christ, the King of the Universe  23.11.14

Today’s liturgy invites us to fix our gaze on Christ, the King of the Universe. The beautiful prayer of the Preface reminds us that his kingdom is “a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace”. The readings we have listened to show us how Jesus established his kingdom; how he brings it about in history; and what he now asks of us.

First, how Jesus brought about his kingdom: he did so through his closeness and tenderness towards us. He is the Shepherd, of whom the Prophet Ezekiel spoke in the First Reading (cf. 34:11-12, 15-17). These verses are interwoven with verbs which show the care and love that the Shepherd has for his flock: to search, to look over, to gather the dispersed, to lead into pasture, to bring to rest, to seek the lost sheep, to lead back the confused, to bandage the wounded, to heal the sick, to take care of, to pasture. All of these are fulfilled in Jesus Christ: he is truly the “great Shepherd of the sheep and the protector of our souls” (cf. Heb 13:20; 1 Pt 2:25).

Those of us who are called to be pastors in the Church cannot stray from this example, if we do not want to become hirelings. In this regard the People of God have an unerring sense for recognizing good shepherds and in distinguishing them from hirelings.

After his victory, that is after his Resurrection, how has Jesus advanced his kingdom? The Apostle Paul, in the First Letter to the Corinthians, says: “for he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet” (15:25). The Father, little by little, subjects all to the Son and, at the same time, the Son subjects all to the Father, including even himself in the end. Jesus is not a King according to earthly ways: for him, to reign is not to command, but to obey the Father, to give himself over to the Father, so that his plan of love and salvation may be brought to fulfilment. In this way there is full reciprocity between the Father and the Son. The period of Christ’s reign is the long period of subjecting everything to the Son and consigning everything to the Father. “The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Cor 15:26). And in the end, when all things will be under the sovereignty of Jesus, and everything, including Jesus himself, will be subjected to the Father, God will be all in all (cf. 1 Cor 15:28).

The Gospel teaches what Jesus’ kingdom requires of us: it reminds us that closeness and tenderness are the rule of life for us also, and that on this basis we will be judged. This is how we will be judged. This is the great parable of the final judgement in Matthew 25. The King says: “Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me” (25:34-36). The righteous will ask him: when did we do all this? And he will answer them: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40).

The starting point of salvation is not the confession of the sovereignty of Christ, but rather the imitation of Jesus’ works of mercy through which he brought about his kingdom. The one who accomplishes these works shows that he has welcomed Christ’s sovereignty, because he has opened his heart to God’s charity. In the twilight of life we will be judged on our love for, closeness to and tenderness towards our brothers and sisters. Upon this will depend our entry into, or exclusion from, the kingdom of God: our belonging to the one side or the other. Through his victory, Jesus has opened to us his kingdom. But it is for us to enter into it, beginning with our life now – his kingdom begins now – by being close in concrete ways to our brothers and sisters who ask for bread, clothing, acceptance, solidarity, catechesis. If we truly love them, we will be willing to share with them what is most precious to us, Jesus himself and his Gospel.

Today the Church places before us the example of these new saints. Each in his or her own way served the kingdom of God, of which they became heirs, precisely through works of generous devotion to God and their brothers and sisters. They responded with extraordinary creativity to the commandment of love of God and neighbour. They dedicated themselves, without holding back, to serving the least and assisting the destitute, sick, elderly and pilgrims. Their preference for the smallest and poorest was the reflection and measure of their unconditional love of God. In fact, they sought and discovered love in a strong and personal relationship with God, from whence springs forth true love for one’s neighbour. In the hour of judgement, therefore, they heard that tender invitation: “Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Mt 25:34).

Through the rite of canonization, we have confessed once again the mystery of God’s kingdom and we have honoured Christ the King, the Shepherd full of love for his sheep. May our new saints, through their witness and intercession, increase within us the joy of walking in the way of the Gospel and our resolve to embrace the Gospel as the compass of our lives. Let us follow in their footsteps, imitating their faith and love, so that our hope too may be clothed in immortality. May we not allow ourselves to be distracted by other earthly and fleeting interests. And may Mary, our Mother and Queen of all Saints, guide us on the way to the kingdom of heaven.





Pope Francis  03.06.16 Jubilee of Mercy for Priests, St Peter's Square,     Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus     Ezekiel 34: 11-16,     Luke 15: 3-7  

 
Pope Francis Sacred Heart of Jesus 03.06.16
 
This celebration of the Jubilee for Priests on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus invites us all to turn to the heart, the deepest root and foundation of every person, the focus of our affective life and, in a word, his or her very core. Today we contemplate two hearts: the Heart of the Good Shepherd and our own heart as priests.
The Heart of the Good Shepherd is not only the Heart that shows us mercy, but is itself mercy. There the Father’s love shines forth; there I know I am welcomed and understood as I am; there, with all my sins and limitations, I know the certainty that I am chosen and loved. Contemplating that heart, I renew my first love: the memory of that time when the Lord touched my soul and called me to follow him, the memory of the joy of having cast the nets of our life upon the sea of his word (cf. Lk 5:5).
The Heart of the Good Shepherd tells us that his love is limitless; it is never exhausted and it never gives up. There we see his infinite and boundless self-giving; there we find the source of that faithful and meek love which sets free and makes others free; there we constantly discover anew that Jesus loves us “even to the end” (Jn 13:1), to the very end, without ever imposing.

The Heart of the Good Shepherd reaches out to us, above all to those who are most distant. There the needle of his compass inevitably points, there we see a particular “weakness” of his love, which desires to embrace all and lose none.

Contemplating the Heart of Christ, we are faced with the fundamental question of our priestly life: Where is my heart directed? It is a question we need to keep asking, daily, weekly… Where is my heart directed? Our ministry is often full of plans, projects and activities: from catechesis to liturgy, to works of charity, to pastoral and administrative commitments. Amid all these, we must still ask ourselves: What is my heart set on? I think of that beautiful prayer of the liturgy, “Ubi vera sunt gaudia”… Where is it directed, what is the treasure that it seeks? For as Jesus says: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Mt 6:21). All of us have our weaknesses and sins. But let us go deeper: what is the root of our failings, those sins, the place we have hid that “treasure” that keeps us from the Lord?

The great riches of the Heart of Jesus are two: the Father and ourselves. His days were divided between prayer to the Father and encountering people. Not distance, but encounter. So too the heart of Christ’s priests knows only two directions: the Lord and his people. The heart of the priest is a heart pierced by the love of the Lord. For this reason, he no longer looks to himself, or should look to himself, but is instead turned towards God and his brothers and sisters. It is no longer “a fluttering heart”, allured by momentary whims, shunning disagreements and seeking petty satisfactions. Rather, it is a heart rooted firmly in the Lord, warmed by the Holy Spirit, open and available to our brothers and sisters. That is where our sins are resolved.

To help our hearts burn with the charity of Jesus the Good Shepherd, we can train ourselves to do three things suggested to us by today’s readings: seek out, include and rejoice.

Seek out. The prophet Ezekiel reminds us that God himself goes out in search of his sheep (Ez 34:11, 16). As the Gospel says, he “goes out in search of the one who is lost” (Lk 15:4), without fear of the risks. Without delaying, he leaves the pasture and his regular workday. He doesn’t demand overtime. He does not put off the search. He does not think: “I have done enough for today; perhaps I’ll worry about it tomorrow”. Instead, he immediately sets to it; his heart is anxious until he finds that one lost sheep. Having found it, he forgets his weariness and puts the sheep on his shoulders, fully content. Sometimes he has to go and seek it out, to speak, to persuade; at other times he must remain in prayer before the tabernacle, struggling with the Lord for that sheep.

Such is a heart that seeks out. A heart that does not set aside times and spaces as private. Woe to those shepherds to privatize their ministry! It is not jealous of its legitimate quiet time, even that, and never demands that it be left alone. A shepherd after the heart of God does not protect his own comfort zone. He is not worried about protecting his good name, but will be slandered as Jesus was. Unafraid of criticism, he is disposed to take risks in seeking to imitate his Lord. “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you….” (Mt 5:11).

A shepherd after the heart of God has a heart sufficiently free to set aside his own concerns. He does not live by calculating his gains or how long he has worked: he is not an accountant of the Spirit, but a Good Samaritan who seeks out those in need. For the flock he is a shepherd, not an inspector, and he devotes himself to the mission not fifty or sixty percent, but with all he has. In seeking, he finds, and he finds because he takes risks. Unless a shepherd risks, he does not find. He does not stop when disappointed and he does not yield to weariness. Indeed, he is stubborn in doing good, anointed with the divine obstinacy that loses sight of no one. Not only does he keep his doors open, but he also goes to seek out those who no longer wish to enter them. Like every good Christian, and as an example for every Christian, he constantly goes out of himself. The epicentre of his heart is outside of himself. He is centred only in Jesus, not in himself. He is not attracted by his own “I”, but by the “Thou” of God and by the “we” of other men and women.
The second word: Include. Christ loves and knows his sheep. He gives his life for them, and no one is a stranger to him (cf. Jn 10:11-14). His flock is his family and his life. He is not a boss to feared by his flock, but a shepherd who walks alongside them and calls them by name (cf. Jn 10:3-4). He wants to gather the sheep that are not yet of his fold (cf. Jn 10:16).
So it is also with the priest of Christ. He is anointed for his people, not to choose his own projects but to be close to the real men and women whom God has entrusted to him. No one is excluded from his heart, his prayers or his smile. With a father’s loving gaze and heart, he welcomes and includes everyone, and if at times he has to correct, it is to draw people closer. He stands apart from no one, but is always ready to dirty his hands. The Good Shepherd does not wear gloves. As a minister of the communion that he celebrates and lives, he does not await greetings and compliments from others, but is the first to reach out, rejecting gossip, judgements and malice. He listens patiently to the problems of his people and accompanies them, sowing God’s forgiveness with generous compassion. He does not scold those who wander off or lose their way, but is always ready to bring them back and to resolve difficulties and disagreements. He knows how to include.

Rejoice. God is “full of joy” (cf. Lk 15:5). His joy is born of forgiveness, of life risen and renewed, of prodigal children who breathe once more the sweet air of home. The joy of Jesus the Good Shepherd is not a joy for himself alone, but a joy for others and with others, the true joy of love. This is also the joy of the priest. He is changed by the mercy that he freely gives. In prayer he discovers God’s consolation and realizes that nothing is more powerful than his love. He thus experiences inner peace, and is happy to be a channel of mercy, to bring men and women closer to the Heart of God. Sadness for him is not the norm, but only a step along the way; harshness is foreign to him, because he is a shepherd after the meek Heart of God.

Dear priests, in the Eucharistic celebration we rediscover each day our identity as shepherds. In every Mass, may we truly make our own Christ’s words: “This is my body, which is given up for you”. This is the meaning of our life; with these words, in a real way we can daily renew the promises we made at our priestly ordination. I thank all of you for saying “yes”, and also for all those many times you secretly say “yes” each day, things that only the Lord knows about. I thank you for saying “yes” to giving your life in union with Jesus: for in this is found the pure source of our joy.






Pope Francis  07.05.17 Holy Mass for Ordinations to the Sacred Priesthood, Vatican Basilica    4th Sunday of Easter Year A      John 10: 1-10

Pope Francis Ordination of Priests 07.05.17

Dearest Brothers and Sisters,

Our sons have been called to the order of priests. Let us consider the position to which they are to be promoted in the Church. It is true, brothers and sisters, that God has made his entire people a royal priesthood in Christ. But our High Priest, Jesus Christ, also chose some of his followers to carry out publicly in the Church a priestly ministry in his name on behalf of mankind. They were elected by the Lord Jesus, not to further their careers, but to offer this service.

He was sent by the Father, and he in turn sent the apostles into the world; through them and their successors, the bishops, he continues his work as Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd. Priests are co-workers of the order of bishops. They are joined to the bishops in the priestly office and are called to serve God’s people.

Our brothers have seriously prayed and considered this step, and are now to be ordained to priesthood in the presbyteral order. They are to serve Christ the Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd in his ministry which is to make his own body, the Church, into the people of God, a holy temple of the Holy Spirit.

They are called to share in the priesthood of the bishops and to be moulded into the likeness of Christ, the supreme and eternal Priest. By consecration, they will be made true priests of the New Testament, to preach the Gospel, sustain God’s people, and celebrate the Liturgy, above all, the Lord’s sacrifice.

My beloved sons and brothers, you are now to be advanced to the order of the presbyterate. You must apply your energies to the duty of teaching in the name of Christ, the chief Teacher. Share with all mankind the Word of God you received with joy as children. Meditate on the law of God, believe what you read, teach what you believe, and put into practice what you teach.

Let the doctrine you teach be nourishment for the people of God; let it be simple, as the Lord spoke, so as to touch the heart. Do not preach homilies that are too intellectual and elaborate. Speak in a simple way; speak to hearts. And this preaching will be true nourishment. Let the example of your life — because the Word without the example of life is ineffective. It is better to turn back. A double life is a serious disease in the Church — attract the followers of Christ so that by word and action you may build up the house which is God’s Church. In the same way you must carry out your mission of sanctifying in the power of Christ. Your ministry will perfect the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful by uniting it to Christ’s sacrifice, the sacrifice which is offered sacramentally through your hands.

Know what you are doing and imitate the mystery you celebrate. In the memorial of the Lord’s death and resurrection, make every effort to die to sin and to walk in the new life of Christ. A presbyter who has studied perhaps a lot of theology and has one, two, three degrees, but has not learned to carry Christ’s Cross, is ineffective. He will be a good scholar, a good professor, but not a priest.

When you baptize, you will bring new men and women into the people of God. In the sacrament of penance, you will forgive sins in the name of Christ and the Church. I ask you, please, in the name of Christ and the Church, to always be merciful; do not encumber the faithful, nor yourselves, with unbearable burdens. For this Jesus reproached the doctors of the law and called them hypocrites. With holy oil you will relieve and console the sick. One of the tasks — perhaps the most tedious, even painful one — is to visit the sick. Do this. Yes, it is good that the lay faithful and deacons go, but do not neglect to touch the flesh of the suffering Christ in the sick. This sanctifies you; it brings you closer to Christ. You will celebrate the liturgy and offer thanks and praise to God throughout the day, praying not only for the people of God but for the whole world.

Remember that you are chosen from among God’s people and appointed to act for them in relation to God. Do your part in the work of Christ the Priest with genuine joy and love. Be joyful, never sad. Joyful, with the joy of Christ’s service, even amid suffering, misunderstandings, and your own sins. Keep your gaze ever fixed on the example of the Good Shepherd who did not come to be served but to serve. Please, do not be “lords”. Do not be “state clerics”, but rather shepherds of the people of God.





Pope Francis      07.05.17 Regina Caeli, St Peter's Square      4th Sunday of Easter Year A       John 10: 1-10


Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Good morning!

In the Gospel for this Sunday (cf. Jn 10:1-10), known as “Good Shepherd Sunday”, Jesus presents to us two images which complete each other. The image of the shepherd and the image of the door of the sheepfold. The flock, which is all of us, has a sheepfold as its home, which serves as a refuge, where the sheep live and rest after the toils of the journey. And the sheepfold has an enclosure with a door, where there is a gatekeeper. Different people approach the flock: there is one who enters the enclosure by the door and one who “climbs in by another way” (cf. v. 1). The first is the shepherd, the second a stranger who does not love the sheep and wants to enter for other reasons. Jesus identifies with the first and shows a familiar relationship with the sheep, expressed by his voice, by which he calls them and which they recognize and follow (cf. v. 3). He calls them, to lead them out to grassy pastures where they find good food.

The second image by which Jesus presents himself is that of the “door of the sheep” (v. 7). In fact, he says: “I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved” (v. 9); that is, they “will have life and will have it abundantly” (v. 10). Christ, the Good Shepherd, became the door of mankind’s salvation, because he offered his life for his sheep.

Jesus, Good Shepherd and door of the sheep, is a leader whose authority is expressed in service, a leader who, in order to command, gives his life and does not ask others to sacrifice theirs. One can trust in a leader like this, as the sheep who heed their shepherd’s voice because they know that with him one goes to good and abundant pastures. A signal, a call suffices, and they follow; they obey; they begin to walk, guided by the voice of the One whom they feel as a friendly presence, strong and mild at once, who calls, protects, consoles and soothes.

This is how Christ is for us. There is a dimension of the Christian experience, that perhaps we leave somewhat in the shadows: the spiritual and affective dimension. Feeling connected to the Lord by a special bond, as sheep to their shepherd. At times we rationalize faith too much and we run the risk of losing the perception of the timbre of that voice, of the voice of Jesus the Good Shepherd, which motivates and fascinates. This is what happened to the two disciples of Emmaus, whose hearts burned as the Risen One spoke along the way. It is the wondrous experience of feeling loved by Jesus. Ask yourselves the question: “Do I feel loved by Jesus? Do I feel loved by Jesus?”. To him we are never strangers, but friends and brothers. Yet it is not always easy to discern the Good Shepherd’s voice. Be careful. There is always the risk of being distracted by the din of so many other voices. Today we are invited not to let ourselves be distracted by the false wisdom of this world, but to follow Jesus, the Risen One, as the one sure guide who gives meaning to our life.

On this World Day of Prayer for Vocations — in particular for priestly vocations, so that the Lord may send us good pastors — let us invoke the Virgin Mary: May she accompany the 10 new priests whom I have just ordained.

I asked four of them from the Diocese of Rome to come forward and join me in giving the blessing. May Our Lady offer her help in support of those who are called by Him, that they may be ready and generous in following his voice.




Pope Francis 12.05.19  Priests

Dearest Brothers and Sisters,

Our sons have been called to the order of priests. It will do us all good to consider carefully the position to which they are to be promoted in the Church. It is true that the Lord Jesus is the High Priest of the New Testament and God has also made his entire people a royal priesthood in Christ. But Jesus Christ also chose some of his followers to carry out publicly in the Church a priestly ministry in his name on behalf of mankind, continuing his personal mission as Teacher, as Priest, as Shepherd.

Indeed, for this reason he was sent by the Father, and he in turn sent into the world the Apostles, and then the Bishops and their successors.
Priests are co-workers of the order of Bishops, to whom they are joined in the priestly office and are called to serve the People of God.

After many years of reflection — their own reflection, the reflection of their superiors, of those who have accompanied them on this path —, they have presented themselves today so that I may confer on them the priestly Order.

They are called to be moulded into the likeness of Christ, the Supreme and Eternal Priest. By consecration, they will be made true priests of the New Testament, and in this role, sharing in the priesthood of their Bishop, to preach the Gospel, sustain God’s people, and preside at rites of worship, above all the celebration of the Lord’s sacrifice, that is, the Eucharist.

My beloved brothers and sons, you are now to be advanced to the order of the presbyterate. You must apply your energies to the duty of teaching in the name of Christ, the chief Teacher. This is not a cultural association; it is not a union. You will participate in Christ’s ministry. Share with all mankind the Word of God you received with joy. And for this reason, read and meditate on the Word of the Lord, believe what you read, teach what you believe, and put into practice what you teach. You should never deliver a homily without much prayer, with the Bible in hand. Do not forget this.

Let the doctrine you teach be true nourishment for the People of God: when it comes from the heart and arises from prayer, it will be very fruitful. Let the example of your life attract the followers of Christ: men of prayer, men of sacrifice so that by word and action you may build up the House of God which is the Church. In the same way you must continue the sanctifying work of Christ. The spiritual sacrifice of the faithful will be perfected through your ministry, united to Christ’s sacrifice, and through your hands be offered sacramentally on the altar in celebration of the Holy mysteries. Be attentive in the celebration of the Eucharist.

Know what you are doing and imitate the mystery you celebrate. In memory of the Lord’s death and Resurrection, carry Christ’s death within you and walk with him in the newness of life.

The Lord wished to save us gratuitously. He himself said: “Freely give what you freely received”. The celebration of the Eucharist is the culmination of the Lord’s gratuitousness. Please do not soil it with petty interests.

When you baptize you will bring new men and women into the People of God. In the Sacrament of Penance, you will forgive sins in the name of God, of Christ and of the Church. And here, I ask you, please, never tire of being merciful. Merciful like the Father, as Jesus was merciful with us, with all of us. With holy oil you will relieve and console the sick. Idle away time visiting the sick and the invalid. You will celebrate the liturgy and offer thanks and praise to God throughout the day, praying not only for the People of God, but for the whole of humanity.

Remember that you are chosen from among mankind and appointed to act in their favour by attending to the things of God. Carry out the work of Christ’s ministry with genuine joy and love, with sincerity, seeking only to please God and not yourselves. Priestly joy is found only on this path, in trying to please God who elected us.

Finally conscious of sharing in the work of Christ, the head and Shepherd of the Church, and united with the Bishop and subject to him, seek to bring the faithful together into a unified family. These are the affinities proper to priests: close to God in prayer, close to the bishop who is your father, close to the presbytery, to other priests, as brothers, without excoriating each other [speaking ill of each other], and close to the People of God. Always keep in mind the example of
the Good Shepherd who came not to be served but to serve and to seek out and rescue those who were lost.




Pope Francis 12.05.19 The Good Shepherd

Dear Brothers and Sisters Good Morning.

In today's Gospel Jesus presents himself as the true shepherd of Gods' people. He speaks of the relationship that binds Him to the sheep of the flock; that is to say his disciples. And he insists on the fact that it is a relationship of mutual knowledge. He says  "My sheep listen to my voice, I know them and they follow me . I give them eternal life and they will not be lost." Reading this sentence carefully we see that the work of Jesus  is expressed in some actions. He speaks, He knows, Jesus gives eternal life, Jesus guards.

The Good Shepherd Jesus is attentive to each one of us. He seeks and loves us addressing to us His words, knowing the depths of our hearts, our desires and our hopes as well as our failures and our disappointments . He welcomes us and loves us as we are with our strengths and weaknesses for each one of us He gives eternal life. That is He offers the possibility of leading a full life without end. Moreover, He protects us and guides us with love, helping us to cross the impervious paths and sometimes risky roads that arise in the path of life. 

The verbs and gestures that describe this way in which Jesus the Good Shepherd communicates with us are matched by the verbs that concern the sheep us. "They listen to my voice; They follow me." These are actions that show how we must correspond to the tender and caring attitudes of the Lord. Listening and recognising His voice in fact implies intimacy with Him who us joined in prayer in the heart to heart encounter with the divine master and pastor of our souls . This intimacy which opens us to speak with Jesus  strengthens in us the desire to follow Him coming out of the labyrinths of wrong paths abandoning selfish behaviour to set out on the new paths of brotherhood and the gift of ourselves in imitation of Him.

Don't forget that Jesus is the one Pastor who speaks, who knows, who gives life eternal and who guards us. We are the one flock. We are strengthened by listening to his voice in the sincerity of our hearts, and we continue this intimacy with our pastors. This helps us to enter into the fullness of life eternal.

Let us turn now to the mother of Christ the Good Shepherd. May she who responded promptly to Gods call help in particular those called to the priesthood and to consecrated life to accept with joy the availability of Christ's invitation to be His most direct collaborators in the proclamation of the Gospel and the service of Gods kingdom in our time.



Pope Francis  03.05.20  Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Martha)    1 Peter 2: 20b-25,     Psalm 23: 1-3a, 3b, 4-6,      John 10: 1-10
Fourth Sunday of Easter - Year A

Pope Francis Jesus the Good Shepherd 03.05.20

Three weeks after the Lord's Resurrection, the Church today on the fourth Sunday of Easter celebrates the Sunday of the Good Shepherd, Jesus the Good Shepherd. This makes me think of so many shepherds in the world who give their lives for the faithful, even in this pandemic, many, more than 100 here in Italy have died. I also think of other shepherds who care for the good of the people, the doctors. We are talking about doctors, about what they do, but we must realize that, in Italy alone, 154 doctors have died, in an act of service. May the example of these pastors, priests and medical pastors help us take care of the holy faithful people of God.

The First Letter of the Apostle Peter, which we have heard, is a passage of serenity. It's about Jesus. He says: "He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness; By his wounds you have been healed. For you had gone astray like sheep, but you have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls." (1 Peter 2: 24-25) Jesus is the shepherd - as Peter sees him - who comes to save, to save the wandering sheep: it was us. And in Psalm 23 that we read after this reading, we repeated, "The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I shall want." The presence of the Lord as a shepherd, as a shepherd of the flock. 

And Jesus, in chapter 10 of John, which we have read, presents himself as the shepherd. Indeed, not only the shepherd, but the "door" through which the flock enters. All those who came and did not enter through that door were thieves or robbers or wanted to take advantage of the flock: the false shepherds. And in the history of the Church there have been many of them who exploited the flock. They weren't interested in the flock, it was just a career or politics or money. But the flock knows them, they always know them and they go in search of God by their own paths.

But when there is a good shepherd, there is a flock that goes on, that carries on. The good shepherd listens to the flock, leads the flock, heals the flock. And the flock knows how to distinguish between shepherds, it is not wrong: the flock trusts the good shepherd, trusts Jesus. Only the shepherd who resembles Jesus gives confidence to the flock, because he is the door. The style of Jesus must be the style of the shepherd, there is no other. 

But even Jesus, the good shepherd, as Peter says in the first reading: "Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you would follow in his footsteps. He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. When he was insulted, he returned no insult, when he suffered, he did not threaten", (1 Peter 2: 21-23) he was meek. One of the signs of a good shepherd is meekness, it is meekness. A good shepherd is meek. A shepherd who is not meek is not a good shepherd. He has something hidden, because meekness shows him as he is, without defending himself. And furthermore, the shepherd is tender, has that tenderness of closeness, knows the sheep one by one by name and takes care of each one as if it were the only one, to the point that when he comes home after a day's work, tired, he realizes that he is missing one, goes out to work again to look for it and he brings it back with him, he carries it on his shoulders. 

This is the good shepherd, this is Jesus, this is the one who accompanies us on the journey of life, for everyone. And this idea of the shepherd, and this idea of the flock and the sheep, is an Easter idea. The Church in the first week of Easter sings that beautiful song for the newly baptized: "These are the new lambs", the hymn we heard at the beginning of Mass. It is an idea of community, of tenderness, of kindness, of meekness. It is the Church that loves Jesus and he guards this Church.

This Sunday is a beautiful Sunday, it is a Sunday of peace, it is a Sunday of tenderness, of meekness, because our pastor takes care of us. "The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I shall want."




Pope Francis   03.05.20 Regina Caeli, Apostolic Palace Library    Fourth Sunday of Easter - Year A       John 10: 1-10

Pope Francis God's Voice 03.05.20

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

The fourth Sunday of Easter, which we celebrate today, is dedicated to Jesus the Good Shepherd. The Gospel says, "The sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep, by name" (John 10: 3). The Lord calls us by name, calls us because he loves us. But, the Gospel then tells us, there are other voices not to be followed: those of strangers, thieves and robbers who want evil for the sheep.

These different voices resonate within us. There is the voice of God, who speaks kindly to the conscience, and there is the tempting voice that leads to evil. How can we recognize the voice of the Good Shepherd from that of the thief, how can we distinguish God's inspiration from the suggestion of the evil one

We can learn to discern these two voices: in fact they speak two different languages, that is, they have opposite ways of knocking on our hearts. They speak different languages. As we know how to distinguish one language from another, we can also distinguish the voice of God and the voice of the evil one. The voice of God never forces us: God proposes himself, he does not impose himself. Instead, the evil voice seduces, assails, forces: it arouses dazzling illusions, tempting emotions that are fleeting. At first it flatters us, it makes us believe that we are all-powerful, but then leaves us with emptiness inside and accuses us: "You are worth nothing". God's voice, on the other hand, corrects us, with so much patience, but always encourages us, consoles us: it always nourishes hope. The voice of God is a voice that has a horizon, instead the voice of the evil one leads you to a wall, it takes you to a corner.

Another difference. The voice of the enemy distracts us from the present and wants us to focus on the fears of the future or the sadness of the past – the enemy does not want the present –: it brings back the bitterness, the memories of the wrongs suffered, of those who hurt us, so many bad memories. Instead, God's voice speaks to the present: "Now you can do good, now you can exercise the creativity of love, now you can renounce the regrets and remorse that hold your heart captive." It enlivens us, it brings us forward, but it speaks of the present: now.

In addition: the two voices raise different questions in us. What comes from God will be, "What is good for me?" Instead, the tempter will insist on another question: "What do I want to do?" What would I like: the evil voice always revolves around the self, its impulses, its needs, everything and immediately. It's like the whims of children: everything right now. The voice of God, on the other hand, never promises cheap joy. It invites us to go beyond our self to find the true good, peace. Let us remember: evil never gives us peace, it puts frenzy first and leaves bitterness after. That's the style of evil.

Finally, the voice of God and that of the tempter, speak in different "environments": the enemy prefers darkness, falsehood, gossip; the Lord loves sunlight, truth, sincere transparency. The enemy will say to us: "Close yourself in on yourself, for no one understands you and listens to you, do not trust others!". Good, on the other hand, invites us to open up, to be transparent and trusting in God and in others. 

Dear brothers and sisters, in this time many thoughts and concerns lead us to turn inwards. Let us pay attention to the voices that reach our hearts. Let's ask ourselves where they come from. Let us ask for the grace to recognize and follow the voice of the Good Shepherd, who brings us out of the enclosures of selfishness and leads us to the pastures of true freedom. May Our Lady, Mother of good Counsel, guide and accompany our discernment.




Pope Francis  18.05.20  Altar of St John Paul II , Vatican Basilica    Holy Mass in Memory of the Centenary of the Birth of St John Paul II   Psalm 149: 1-6a, 9b

Pope Francis Centenary of the Birth of St John Paul II 18.05.20

"The Lord loves his people" (Psalm 149: 4 ) we sang this refrain in the chorus and also a truth that the people of Israel repeated, they liked to repeat: "The Lord loves his people" and in difficult times, "the Lord loves" you have to wait to see how this love will manifest itself. When the Lord sent out of this love a prophet, or a man of God, the reaction of the people was: "The Lord has visited his people"(Luke 7: 16 cf 1.68 Ex 4.31), because he loves them, he has visited them. And so did the crowd that followed Jesus, seeing the things Jesus did: "The Lord has visited his people." And today we can say here: a hundred years ago the Lord visited his people, sent a man, prepared him to be a bishop and lead the Church. By remembering St. John Paul II we repeat this: "The Lord loves his people," the Lord visited his people, sent a pastor. 

And what are, let's say, "the traits" of a good shepherd that we can find in St. John Paul II? Many! But let's just talk about three. As they say that the Jesuits always say things in three, we say three: prayer, closeness to the people, and love for justice. St. John Paul II was a man of God because he prayed and prayed so much. But how is it that a man who has so much work to do, so much work to lead the Church... how can he have a lot of prayer time? He knew well that the first task of a bishop is to pray and this was not said by Vatican II, St Peter said it, when he made the Deacons with the Twelve, they said: "And to us bishops, prayer and the proclamation of the Word" (Acts 6: 4). A bishop's first task is to pray. And he knew it, and he did it. A model bishop praying, the first task. And he taught us that when a bishop examines his conscience in the evening, he has to ask himself: how many hours today have I prayed? A man of prayer.

The second trait, a man of closeness. He was not a man detached from the people, indeed he went to visit the people and travelled the whole world, finding his people, searching for his people, making himself close. And closeness is one of God's traits with his people. Let us remember that the Lord said to the people of Israel, "Look, what other people have their gods as close as I am with you?" (cf. Dt 4: 7). A closeness of God with the people who then get close to Jesus, is made strong in Jesus. A shepherd is close to the people, on the contrary, if he is not, he is not a shepherd, he is a manager, he is an administrator, perhaps good but he is not a shepherd. Closeness to the people. And St. John Paul II gave us the example of this closeness: close to the great and the small, the neighbours and the distant, always close, he was close.

The third trait, a love for justice. But complete justice! A man who wanted justice, social justice, the justice for the people, justice to drive out war. But complete justice! For this reason St. John Paul II was a man of mercy because justice and mercy go together, they cannot be distinguished, they are together: justice is justice, mercy is mercy, but one without the other is not found. And speaking of a man of justice and mercy, let us think about what St. John Paul II did for people to understand God's mercy. Let us think about how he promoted the devotion to Saint Faustina whose liturgical memory from today will be for the whole Church. He had felt that God's justice had this face of mercy, this attitude of mercy. And this is a gift that he has left us: justice in mercy and merciful justice.

Let us pray to him today, that he will grant to all of us, especially the pastors of the Church but to all, the grace of prayer, the grace of closeness and the grace of justice in mercy, merciful justice.




Pope Francis      22.11.20  Angelus, St Peter's Square     Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe - Last Sunday Year A      Matthew 25: 31-46


Dear brothers and sisters, good afternoon!
Pope Francis - Christ the King - Angelus 22.11.20

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. The great parable with which the liturgical year closes is that which unfolds the mystery of Christ, the entire liturgical year. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end of history; and today’s liturgy focuses on the “Omega”, that is, on the final goal. The meaning of history is understood by keeping its culmination before our eyes: the goal is also the end. And it is precisely this that Matthew accomplishes in this Sunday’s Gospel (25:31-46), placing Jesus’s discourse on the universal judgement at the end of His earthly life: He, the one whom men are about to condemn is, in reality, the supreme judge. In His death and resurrection, Jesus will manifest Himself as the Lord of History, the King of the Universe, the Judge of all. But the Christian paradox is that the Judge is not vested in the fearful trappings of royalty, but is the shepherd filled with meekness and mercy.

Jesus, in fact, in this parable of the final judgement, uses the image of a shepherd, He picks up these images from the prophet Ezekiel who had spoken of God’s intervention in favour of His people against the evil pastors of Israel (see 34:1-10). They had been cruel exploiters, preferring to feed themselves rather than the flock; therefore, God Himself promises to personally take care of His flock, defending it from injustice and abuse. This promise God made on behalf of His people is fully accomplished in Jesus Christ, the shepherd: He Himself is the good shepherd. He Himself even said of Himself: “I am the good shepherd” (Jn 10:11, 14).

In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus identifies Himself not only with the king-shepherd, but also with the lost sheep, we can speak of a double identity: the king-shepherd, and also Jesus and the sheep: that is, He identifies Himself with the least and most in need of His brothers and sisters. And He thus indicates the criterion of the judgement: it will be made on the basis of concrete love given or denied to these persons, because He Himself, the judge, is present in each one of them. He is the judge. He is God and Man, but He is also the poor one, He is hidden and present in the person of the poor people that He mentions: right there. Jesus says: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it (or did it not) to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it (you did it not) to me” (vv. 40, 45). We will be judged on love. The judgement will be on love, not on feelings, no: we will be judged on works, on compassion that becomes nearness and kind help. Have I drawn near to Jesus present in the persons of the sick, the poor, the suffering, the imprisoned, of those who are hungry and thirsty for justice? Do I draw near to Jesus present there? This is the question for today.

Therefore, at the end of the world, the Lord will inspect the flock, and he will do so not only from the perspective of the shepherd, but also from the perspective of the sheep, with whom He has identified Himself. And He will ask us: “Were you a little bit like a shepherd as myself?” “Where you a shepherd to me who was present in those people who were in need, or were you indifferent?” Brothers and sisters, let us look at the logic of indifference, of those who come to mind immediately. Looking away when we see a problem. Let us remember the parable of the Good Samaritan. That poor man, wounded by the brigands, thrown to the ground, between life and death, he was alone. A priest passed by, saw, and went on his way. He looked the other way. A Levite passed by, saw and looked the other way. I, before my brothers and sisters in need, am I indifferent like the priest, like the Levite and look the other way? I will be judged on this: on how I drew near, how I looked on Jesus present in those in need. This is the logic, and I am not saying it: Jesus says it. “What you did to that person and that person and that person, you did it to me. And what you did not do to that person and that person and that person, you did not do it to me, because I was there”. May Jesus teach us this logic, this logic of being close, of drawing near to Him, with love, to the person who is suffering most.

Let us ask the Virgin Mary to teach us to reign by serving. The Madonna, assumed into Heaven, received the royal crown from her Son because she followed Him faithfully – she is the first disciple – on the way of Love. Let us learn from her to enter God’s Kingdom even now through the door of humble and generous service. And let us return home with this phrase only: “I was present there. Thank you!" or, "You forgot about me”.