Priests


Priests - Pope Francis       

   
This morning I have the joy of celebrating my first Chrism Mass as the Bishop of Rome. I greet all of you with affection, especially you, dear priests, who, like myself, today recall the day of your ordination.

The readings and the Psalm of our Mass speak of God’s “anointed ones”: the suffering Servant of Isaiah, King David and Jesus our Lord. All three have this in common: the anointing that they receive is meant in turn to anoint God’s faithful people, whose servants they are; they are anointed for the poor, for prisoners, for the oppressed… A fine image of this “being for” others can be found in the Psalm 133: “It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down upon the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down upon the collar of his robe” (v. 2). The image of spreading oil, flowing down from the beard of Aaron upon the collar of his sacred robe, is an image of the priestly anointing which, through Christ, the Anointed One, reaches the ends of the earth, represented by the robe.
The sacred robes of the High Priest are rich in symbolism. One such symbol is that the names of the children of Israel were engraved on the onyx stones mounted on the shoulder-pieces of the ephod, the ancestor of our present-day chasuble: six on the stone of the right shoulder-piece and six on that of the left (cf. Ex 28:6-14). The names of the twelve tribes of Israel were also engraved on the breastplate (cf. Es 28:21). This means that the priest celebrates by carrying on his shoulders the people entrusted to his care and bearing their names written in his heart. When we put on our simple chasuble, it might well make us feel, upon our shoulders and in our hearts, the burdens and the faces of our faithful people, our saints and martyrs who are numerous in these times.
From the beauty of all these liturgical things, which is not so much about trappings and fine fabrics than about the glory of our God resplendent in his people, alive and strengthened, we turn now to a consideration of activity, action. The precious oil which anoints the head of Aaron does more than simply lend fragrance to his person; it overflows down to “the edges”. The Lord will say this clearly: his anointing is meant for the poor, prisoners and the sick, for those who are sorrowing and alone. My dear brothers, the ointment is not intended just to make us fragrant, much less to be kept in a jar, for then it would become rancid … and the heart bitter.
A good priest can be recognized by the way his people are anointed: this is a clear proof. When our people are anointed with the oil of gladness, it is obvious: for example, when they leave Mass looking as if they have heard good news. Our people like to hear the Gospel preached with “unction”, they like it when the Gospel we preach touches their daily lives, when it runs down like the oil of Aaron to the edges of reality, when it brings light to moments of extreme darkness, to the “outskirts” where people of faith are most exposed to the onslaught of those who want to tear down their faith. People thank us because they feel that we have prayed over the realities of their everyday lives, their troubles, their joys, their burdens and their hopes. And when they feel that the fragrance of the Anointed One, of Christ, has come to them through us, they feel encouraged to entrust to us everything they want to bring before the Lord: “Pray for me, Father, because I have this problem”, “Bless me Father”, “Pray for me” – these words are the sign that the anointing has flowed down to the edges of the robe, for it has turned into a prayer of supplication, the supplication of the People of God. When we have this relationship with God and with his people, and grace passes through us, then we are priests, mediators between God and men. What I want to emphasize is that we need constantly to stir up God’s grace and perceive in every request, even those requests that are inconvenient and at times purely material or downright banal – but only apparently so – the desire of our people to be anointed with fragrant oil, since they know that we have it. To perceive and to sense, even as the Lord sensed the hope-filled anguish of the woman suffering from hemorrhages when she touched the hem of his garment. At that moment, Jesus, surrounded by people on every side, embodies all the beauty of Aaron vested in priestly raiment, with the oil running down upon his robes. It is a hidden beauty, one which shines forth only for those faith-filled eyes of the woman troubled with an issue of blood. But not even the disciples – future priests – see or understand: on the “existential outskirts”, they see only what is on the surface: the crowd pressing in on Jesus from all sides (cf. Lk 8:42). The Lord, on the other hand, feels the power of the divine anointing which runs down to the edge of his cloak.
We need to “go out”, then, in order to experience our own anointing, its power and its redemptive efficacy: to the “outskirts” where there is suffering, bloodshed, blindness that longs for sight, and prisoners in thrall to many evil masters. It is not in soul-searching or constant introspection that we encounter the Lord: self-help courses can be useful in life, but to live our priestly life going from one course to another, from one method to another, leads us to become pelagians and to minimize the power of grace, which comes alive and flourishes to the extent that we, in faith, go out and give ourselves and the Gospel to others, giving what little ointment we have to those who have nothing, nothing at all.
The priest who seldom goes out of himself, who anoints little – I won’t say “not at all” because, thank God, the people take the oil from us anyway – misses out on the best of our people, on what can stir the depths of his priestly heart. Those who do not go out of themselves, instead of being mediators, gradually become intermediaries, managers. We know the difference: the intermediary, the manager, “has already received his reward”, and since he doesn’t put his own skin and his own heart on the line, he never hears a warm, heartfelt word of thanks. This is precisely the reason for the dissatisfaction of some, who end up sad – sad priests - in some sense becoming collectors of antiques or novelties, instead of being shepherds living with “the odour of the sheep”. This I ask you: be shepherds, with the “odour of the sheep”, make it real, as shepherds among your flock, fishers of men. True enough, the so-called crisis of priestly identity threatens us all and adds to the broader cultural crisis; but if we can resist its onslaught, we will be able to put out in the name of the Lord and cast our nets. It is not a bad thing that reality itself forces us to “put out into the deep”, where what we are by grace is clearly seen as pure grace, out into the deep of the contemporary world, where the only thing that counts is “unction” – not function – and the nets which overflow with fish are those cast solely in the name of the One in whom we have put our trust: Jesus.
Dear lay faithful, be close to your priests with affection and with your prayers, that they may always be shepherds according to God’s heart.
Dear priests, may God the Father renew in us the Spirit of holiness with whom we have been anointed. May he renew his Spirit in our hearts, that this anointing may spread to everyone, even to those “outskirts” where our faithful people most look for it and most appreciate it. May our people sense that we are the Lord’s disciples; may they feel that their names are written upon our priestly vestments and that we seek no other identity; and may they receive through our words and deeds the oil of gladness which Jesus, the Anointed One, came to bring us. Amen.


https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/priests/21.04.13.jpg

Beloved brothers and sisters: because these our sons, who are your relatives and friends, are now to be advanced to the Order of priests, consider carefully the nature of the rank in the Church to which they are about to be raised.

It is true that God has made his entire holy people a royal priesthood in Christ. Nevertheless, our great Priest himself, Jesus Christ, chose certain disciples to carry out publicly in his name, and on behalf of mankind, a priestly office in the Church. For Christ was sent by the Father and he in turn sent the Apostles into the world, so that through them and their successors, the Bishops, he might continue to exercise his office of Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd. Indeed, priests are established co-workers of the Order of Bishops, with whom they are joined in the priestly office and with whom they are called to the service of the people of God.

After mature deliberation and prayer, these, our brothers, are now to be ordained to the priesthood in the Order of the presbyterate so as to serve Christ the Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd, by whose ministry his body, that is, the Church, is built and grows into the people of God, a holy temple.

In being configured to Christ the eternal High Priest and joined to the priesthood of the Bishops, they will be consecrated as true priests of the New Testament, to preach the Gospel, to shepherd God’s people, and to celebrate the sacred Liturgy, especially the Lord’s sacrifice.

Now, my dear brothers and sons, you are to be raised to the Order of the Priesthood. For your part you will exercise the sacred duty of teaching in the name of Christ the Teacher. Impart to everyone the word of God which you have received with joy.  Remember your mothers, your grandmothers, your catechists, who gave you the word of God, the faith ... the gift of faith!  They transmitted to you this gift of faith.  Meditating on the law of the Lord, see that you believe what you read, that you teach what you believe, and that you practise what you teach.  Remember too that the word of God is not your property: it is the word of God.  And the Church is the custodian of the word of God.

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

Likewise you will exercise in Christ the office of sanctifying. 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 in an unbloody way on the altar, in union with the faithful, in the celebration of the sacraments. Understand, therefore, what you do and imitate what you celebrate. As celebrants of the mystery of the Lord’s death and resurrection, strive to put to death whatever in your members is sinful and to walk in newness of life.

You will gather others into the people of God through Baptism, and you will forgive sins in the name of Christ and the Church in the sacrament of Penance.  Today I ask you in the name of Christ and the Church, never tire of being merciful.  You will comfort the sick and the elderly with holy oil: do not hesitate to show tenderness towards the elderly. When you celebrate the sacred rites, when you offer prayers of praise and thanks to God throughout the hours of the day, not only for the people of God but for the world—remember then that you are taken from among men and appointed on their behalf for those things that pertain to God. Therefore, carry out the ministry of Christ the Priest with constant joy and genuine love, attending not to your own concerns but to those of Jesus Christ.  You are pastors, not functionaries. Be mediators, not intermediaries.

Finally, dear sons, exercising for your part the office of Christ, Head and Shepherd, while united with the Bishop and subject to him, strive to bring the faithful together into one family, so that you may lead them 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 what was lost.


Pope Francis  15.05.13  Holy Mass  Santa Marta   John 17: 11-19

Bishops and priests who succumb to the temptations of money and the vanity of careerism turn into wolves “who devour the flesh of their own sheep”. Anyone who, “takes the flesh of the sheep to eat it, exploit it or trade in it, and who is attached to money, becomes a miser and frequently also a simonist”. Or else he makes use of the wool for his own vanity, in order to boast”. 

Bishops and priests must pray not to give in to these “true and proper temptations”, but they need the prayers of the faithful too. 

(Jn 17:11-19), “keep them”, expresses a relationship of protection and love between God and the pastor and between the pastor and the people. This, is a message for us bishops and for priests and clergymen. They must care for their people and “be ready to sound the alarm when wolves are approaching”. Bishops and priests are not for themselves but for the people. “Do you always think of bishops and priests? We need your prayers.... We too are men and sinners... and are also tempted. What are the temptations of the bishop and the priest?” According to St Augustine these temptations are avarice and vanity. “When a priest takes the road of vanity he enters into the spirit of careerism and does great damage to the Church.... He boasts, he likes to be seen as high and mighty. And the people don’t like it! You see what our difficulties and our temptations are; so you should pray for us that we be humble, gentle, and at the service of the people.





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  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  02.07.17   Angelus, St Peter's Square    Matthew 10: 37-42 

 


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today’s liturgy presents to us the last lines of the
missionary discourse in Chapter 10 of the Gospel of Matthew (cf. 10:37-42), by which Jesus instructs the 12 Apostles at the moment in which, for the first time, he sends them on mission to the villages of Galilee and Judea. In this final part, Jesus underscores two essential aspects for the life of a missionary disciple: the first, that his bond with Jesus is stronger than any other bond; the second, that the missionary brings not himself, but Jesus, and through Him the love of the heavenly Father. These two aspects are connected, because the more Jesus is at the centre of the heart and of the life of a disciple, the more this disciple is “transparent” to His presence. The two go hand in hand.

“He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me...” (v. 37), Jesus says. A father’s affection, a mother’s tenderness, the gentle friendship among brothers and sisters, all this, even while being very good and valid, cannot be placed before Christ. Not because he wants us to be heartless and ungrateful, but rather, on the contrary, because the condition of a disciple demands a priority relationship with the teacher. Any disciple, whether a layman or laywoman, a priest or a bishop: an all-absorbing relationship. Perhaps the first question that we must ask a Christian is: “Do you meet with Jesus? Do you pray to Jesus?”. The relationship. One could almost paraphrase the Book of Genesis: Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and cleave to Jesus and the two shall become one (cf. Gen 2:24).

Those who allow themselves to be drawn into this bond of love and of life with the Lord Jesus become his representatives, his “ambassadors”, above all in the way of being, of living. To the point that Jesus himself, in sending his disciples on mission, says to them: “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me” (Mt 10:40). It is important that the people be able to perceive that for that disciple Jesus is truly “the Lord”; He is truly the centre of his or her life, the everything of life.

It does not matter then if, as for every human being, he or she has limitations and even makes mistakes — as long as he or she has the humility to recognize them; the important thing is that they not have a duplicitous heart — and this is dangerous. I am a Christian; I am a disciple of Jesus; I am a priest; I am a bishop, but I have a duplicitous heart. No, this is not okay. One must not have a duplicitous heart, but a simple, cohesive heart; [one must] not keep one foot in two shoes, but be honest with oneself and with others. Duplicity is not Christian. This is why Jesus prays to the Father so that the disciples may not fall prey to the worldly spirit. You are either with Jesus, with the spirit of Jesus, or you are with the spirit of the world.

Here our experience as priests teaches us something very beautiful, something very important: it is precisely this welcoming of the holy, faithful People of God; it is precisely that “cup of cold water” (v. 42) that the Lord speaks of today in the Gospel, given with affectionate faith, which helps you to be a good
priest! There is a reciprocity in mission too: if you leave everything for Jesus, the people recognize the Lord in you; but at the same time it helps you to convert each day to him, so as to renew and purify yourself from compromises and to overcome temptations. The closer a priest is to the People of God, the closer will he feel to Jesus, and the closer a priest is to Jesus, the closer will he feel to the People of God.

The Virgin Mary felt in the first person what it means to love Jesus by separating herself from him, giv
ing new meaning to family ties, beginning with faith in him. With her maternal intercession, may she help us to be free and happy missionaries of the Gospel.


Pope Francis        18.09.18  Holy Mass  Santa Marta         Luke 7: 11-17
https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/authority/18.09.18.jpg

Pastors imitate Jesus in being near to people, not near to the powerful or ideologues whom, “poison souls”.

What gave Jesus
authority,  was that “he spent most of his time on the road”, touching, embracing, listening and looking at the people in the eye. “He was near them”. This is what gave him authority.

Jesus taught the same thing that many others taught. It was how he taught that was different. Jesus was
meek, and did not cry out. He did not punish the people. He never trumpeted the fact that he was the Messiah or a Prophet. In the Gospel, when Jesus was not with people, he was with the Father praying. His meekness toward the Father was expressed when he visited the house of his Father which had become a shopping mall…. He was angry and threw everyone out. He did this because he loved the Father, because he was humble before the Father.

Jesus was overcome with
compassion for the widow. Jesus “thought with his heart”, which was not separated from his head. Then Jesus tenderly touches her and speaks to her, “Do not weep”. “This is the icon of the pastor”. The pastor “needs to have the power and authority that Jesus had, that humility, that meekness, that nearness, the capacity to be compassionate and tender.

it was also the people who yelled “crucify him”. Jesus then compassionately remained silent because “the people were deceived by the powerful”. His response was silence and prayer. Here the shepherd chooses silence when the “Great Accuser” accuses him through so many people. Jesus suffers, offers his life, and prays.

That prayer carried him even to the Cross, with strength; even there he had the capacity of drawing near to and healing the soul of the repentant thief.



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         Letter to Priests 04.08.19

Pope Francis Letter to Priests 04.08.19

I write this letter not only to parish priests but to all of you, my brother priests, who have quietly “left all behind” in order to immerse yourselves in the daily life of your communities. Like the Curé of Ars, you serve “in the trenches”, bearing the burden of the day and the heat (cf. Mt 20:12), confronting an endless variety of situations in your effort to care for and accompany God’s people. I want to say a word to each of you who, often without fanfare and at personal cost, amid weariness, infirmity and sorrow, carry out your mission of service to God and to your people. Despite the hardships of the journey, you are writing the finest pages of the priestly life.







.




Pope Francis      19.09.19   Holy Mass, Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae), Rome          1 Timothy 4: 12-16    Luke 7: 36-50
Pope Francis  19.09.19  Santa Marta - Ministry

The ordained ministry is a gift which should be appreciated and shared.

Jesus offers this gift to deacons,
priests, and bishops so they might serve others.

I invite everyone and even myself to reflect upon St Paul's first letter to Timothy, todays first reading (1 Tim 4:12-16), focusing on the word "gift", on the ministry as a gift to be contemplated, following Paul's advice to the young disciple: "Do not neglect the gift you have".

It is not a job contract: ‘I have to do it’. The act of doing is in the second place. I must receive the gift and care for it, and from there flows all the rest: in contemplation of the gift. When we forget this, we appropriate the gift, and turn it into a function, then we lose the heart of ministry and lose Jesus’ gaze who looked upon us and said: ‘Follow me.’ Gratuitousness is lost. 

If we do not contemplate the gift we have received, all the deviations we can imagine are unleashed, from the most horrible – which are terrible – to the most mundane, which make us turn our ministry into being about us, rather than about the gratuitousness of the gift and about our love for He who gave us the gift of ministry.

A gift "which was conferred on you through the prophetic word with the imposition of hands of the priests" (1 Tim 4: 14) and that applies to bishops and also to priests and deacons. It is important to contemplate ministry as a gift and not as a function. We do what we can, with good intentions, intelligence, and "even with a little cunning", but always taking care of the gift.

It is human to forget the centrality of a gift, as the Pharisee does in today’s Gospel (Lk 7:36-50) when he forgets several rules of hospitality as he welcomes Jesus to his table.

There was this man, a good man, a good Pharisee but he had forgotten the gift of courtesy, the gift of hospitality – which is also a gift. Gifts are always forgotten when there is some sort of self-interest involved, when I want to do this or that thing – always doing, doing… Yes, we priests must all do things, and our first task is to proclaim the Gospel, but we must take care of our centre, our source from which our mission flows, which is the gift we have freely received from the Lord.

May the Lord help us to care for this gift, to consider our ministry above all as a gift, then as service, so as not to ruin it and not to become entrepreneurs, businessmen and the many things that distance us from the contemplation of the gift and the Lord who gave us the gift of ministry.



Pope Francis   20.09.19    Holy Mass, Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae), Rome        1 Timothy 6: 2C-12
Pope Francis  20.19.19 Bishops, Priests, Deacons

In yesterdays' reading the Apostle Paul gives his advice to the young bishop Timothy. More advice to bishops is to be found in today’s reading.
Yesterday, at the heart of the message was the call to never neglect the gift of ordained ministry.
Today, the reflection focusses on things that weaken the ministerial life like money, gossip, chatter and silly discussions.

When a minister –
a priest, a deacon, a bishop – gives too much value to money", he attaches himself to the root of all evils, referring to today's reading in which Paul describes the love of money as the root of all evils (1Tim 6: 2C-12). "The devil enters from the pockets", is what the old ladies of my time used to say.

Not only bishops, but also priests and deacons, are called to be close.
There are four different ways that ordained ministers must be "close".

First of all, a bishop is a man who is close to God. The apostles invented deacons in order to better serve widows and orphans.
Peter, tells us that our duty – that is the duty of the apostles – is to pray and proclaim the Word.

The bishop’s first task is to pray: it gives us strength and awakens within us the awareness of this gift of the ordained ministry that must never be neglected.

Then second closeness for bishops is to be close to their priests, to their deacons and to their collaborators: the ones who are closest to them.
It is sad when a bishop forgets about his priests. It is sad to hear complaints from a priest who tells you: "I have called the bishop, but I need an appointment to say something to him, and the secretary has told me that everything is full up for three months. A bishop feels closeness to priests, if when he sees that a priest has called him today, he should call him back no later than tomorrow, because he has a right to know, to know that he has a father. Closeness to priests. The devil enters to divide the presbytery, to divide.
And when that happens, it leads to small groups who are divided by ideologies or by sympathies.

So, the third "closeness" of which I am speaking, is the need for closeness among priests themselves.

Finally the fourth is that of bishops and priests with the people of God.

In the second Letter, Paul tells Timothy not to forget his mother and his grandmother, meaning that he must not forget where he came from, where the Lord took him from. Do not forget your people, do not forget your roots! And now as a bishop and as a priest, we must always be close to the people of God.

When a bishop breaks away from the people of God he ends up in an atmosphere of ideologies that have nothing to do with ministry: he is not a minister, he is not a servant. He has forgotten the free gift that was given to him.

Let all of us ordained ministers not forget these four ways in which we must nurture "closeness": closeness to God, prayer, closeness of the bishop to his priests and of priest with the bishop; closeness of priests to each other and of bishops to each other; closeness to the people of God.

Do you pray for your priests, for the pastor, for the deputy pastor, or just criticize him? We must pray for priests and bishops, because all of us - the Pope is a bishop - we know how to preserve the gift - do not neglect this gift that has been given to us this closeness.





Pope Francis Mass of the Lord's Supper 09.04.20

Eucharist, Service, Anointing

This is what we experience in today’s celebration: the Lord who wants to remain with us in the Eucharist. And we become the Lord’s tabernacles, carrying the Lord with us; to the point that he himself tells us: if we do not eat his body and drink his blood, we will not enter the kingdom of heaven. This is a mystery, bread and wine, the Lord with us, within us, inside us.

Service. This gesture is the condition to enter the kingdom of heaven. Yes, to serve... everyone. But the Lord, in the words he exchanged with Peter (cf. Jn 13:6-9), makes him realize that to enter the kingdom of heaven we must let the Lord serve us, that the servant of God be our servant. And this is hard to understand. If I do not let the Lord be my servant, do not let allow the Lord wash me, help me grow, forgive me, then I will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

And the priesthood too. Today I would like to be close to priests, to all priests, from the most recently ordained right up to the Pope. We are all priests. The bishops too, all of us... we are anointed, anointed by the Lord; anointed to confect the Eucharist, anointed to serve. 

There is no Chrism Mass today – I hope we can have it before Pentecost, otherwise it will have to be postponed to next year – but I cannot let tonight’s Mass pass by without remembering priests. Priests who offer their lives for the Lord, priests who are servants. In these days many of them have died, more than sixty here in Italy, while tending to the sick in hospital, together with doctors and nurses... They are “saints next door”, priests who have given their lives in serving.

I think too of those who are far away. Today I received a letter from a priest, a chaplain in a prison far away, who told me how he was spending this Holy Week with the prisoners. A Franciscan priest. Priests who travel far to bring the Gospel and who die far away. A bishop told me once that the first thing he did on arriving in these mission posts was to go to the cemetery, to the graves of priests who gave their lives there, young priests who died from local diseases because they were not prepared, they didn’t have the antibodies; and no one knew their names: anonymous priests. Then there are the parish priests in the countryside, pastors of four, five, seven little villages in the mountains, who go from one to the other, who know the people. One of them once told me that he knew the name of every person in his villages. I asked him, “Really?” And he told me “I even know the dogs’ names!”. They know everyone. Priestly closeness. Good, good priests.

Today I carry you in my heart and I carry you to the altar. Also priests who are slandered. This happens often today; they cannot walk about freely because people say bad things about them, referring to the scandal from discovering priests who have done bad things. Some of them have told me that they cannot go out wearing clerics because people insult them. Yet they carry on. Priests who are sinners, together with bishops and the Pope who is also a sinner, must not forget to ask forgiveness and learn how to forgive because they know that they need to ask forgiveness and to forgive. We are all sinners. Priests who suffer from crises, who do not know what to do, who live in darkness... 

Today you are all with me, brother priests, at the altar, you who are consecrated. I say to you just one thing: do not be stubborn like Peter. Let your feet be washed, the Lord is your servant, he is close to you, and he gives you strength to wash the feet of others.
 
In this way, conscious of the need to be washed clean, you will be great dispensers of forgiveness. Forgive! Have a big heart that is generous in forgiving. This is the measure by which we will be judged. As you have forgiven, so you will be forgiven, in the same measure. Do not be afraid to forgive. Sometimes we have doubts; look to Christ [he looks to the Crucifix]. There, there is forgiveness for all. Be courageous, also in taking risks, in forgiving, in order to bring consolation. And if you cannot give sacramental pardon at this moment, then at least give the consolation of a brother to those you accompany, leaving the door open for people to return. 

I thank God for the grace of the priesthood, we all give thanks. I thank God for you, priests. Jesus loves you! He asks only that you let him wash your feet.




Pope Francis  24.04.20  Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae) Friday of the Second Week of Easter   John 6:1-15


Pope Francis talks about Pastors 24.04.20

Let us pray today for teachers who have to work hard to do lessons via the internet and other media routes, and we also pray for students who have to take exams in a way they are not used to. Let us accompany them with prayer.


This sentence of this passage makes us think: "He said this to test him. He himself knew what he was going to do." That's what Jesus had in mind when he said, "Where can we buy bread for them to eat?" But he said it to test him. He knew. Here we see Jesus' attitude with the disciples. He continually tested them to teach them, and when they had deviated from the role they had to do, he would stop them and teach them.

The Gospel is full of these actions of Jesus to allow his disciples to grow, to provoke growth, to become pastors of the people of God, in this case bishops, pastors of the people of God. And one of the things Jesus loved most was being with the crowd because this too is a symbol of the universality of redemption. And one of the things the apostles didn't like the most was the crowd because they liked to be close to the Lord, to hear the Lord, to hear everything the Lord said. Today they went there to take a day off - the other versions in the other Gospels say this, because all four talk about it ... sometimes there were two multiplications of the loaves - and they came from a mission, and the Lord said, "Let's go and get some rest." And they went there and the people noticed where they were going to by the sea, they circled around and waited for them there. And the disciples were not happy because the people had ruined their "holiday", they could not have this feast with the Lord. Despite this, Jesus began to teach, they listened, then they talked to each other and the hours go by, the hours, Jesus spoke and the people were happy. And they said, "Our party is ruined, our rest is ruined."

But the Lord sought closeness to the people and sought to form the hearts of the shepherds in closeness with God's people to serve them. And they, you understand this, they were chosen and felt a bit like a privileged circle, a privileged class, "an aristocracy", we might say, close to the Lord, and many times the Lord took steps to correct them. For example, let's think about children. They protected the Lord: "No, no, no, do not let the children approach who annoy, disturb... No, children with their parents." And what does Jesus say? "Let the children come." And they didn't understand. Then they figured it out. Then I think of the road to Jericho, the one who shouted: "Jesus son of David, have mercy on me." And the disciples said: "Stay quiet this is the Lord passing, do not disturb him." And Jesus says, "But who is that? Let him come." Again, the Lord. And so he taught them that closeness to God's people.

It is true that the people of God tire the shepherd: when there is a good shepherd, things multiply, because people always go to the good shepherd for one reason or for another. Once, a great pastor of a simple, humble neighbourhood, of the diocese ... had the rectory like a normal house and people would knock on the door or knock on the window, at every hour ... and he once said to me, "But I would like to wall the door and the window up so that they will let me rest." But he knew he was a pastor and he had to be with people. And Jesus forms, and teaches the disciples, the apostles this pastoral attitude that is closeness to the people of God.

It is true that God's people tire the shepherd, because they always ask us concrete things, always ask you something concrete, maybe they are mistaken in what they ask, but they ask you for concrete things. And the pastor has to take care of these things. The version in the other Gospels when they show Jesus that the hours have passed and people had to leave because it was starting to get dark, and they say: "But send the people away so that they can buy something to eat", just at the moment of darkness, when darkness was beginning. But what were they thinking? At least to celebrate among themselves, that selfishness is not so bad, but it is understood, to be with the shepherd, to be with Jesus who is the great shepherd, and Jesus responds, to test them: "Give him food". And this is what Jesus says to all the shepherds today: "Give them food." "Are they distressed? Give them consolation? Are they lost? Show them a way forward. Are they making mistakes? Give them a way to solve their problems... Give them yourselves...". And the poor apostles feel that they need to give, and give, and give, but from whom do they receive? Jesus teaches us, from the same one that Jesus received. After this, he dismisses the apostles and goes to pray, to the Father. From prayer. 

This double nearness of the pastor is what Jesus seeks to help the apostles understand to become great shepherds. But so many times the crowd is wrong and here they are wrong. "Then people, seeing the sign that he had given, said, "This really is the prophet, the one who is to come into the world!" But Jesus, knowing that they came to take him to make him king, withdrew again." Perhaps - the Gospel does not say it - some of the apostles would have said to him: "But Lord, let us take advantage of this and take power." Another temptation. And Jesus makes them see that that is not the way.

The power of the pastor is service, he has no other power and when he errs taking other powers he ruins his vocation and becomes, I do not know, a manager of pastoral enterprises but not a pastor. The structure does not do pastoral work: the heart of the pastor does pastoral work. And the pastor's heart is what Jesus teaches us now. 

Today let us pray to the Lord for the pastors of the Church so that the Lord may always speaks to them, because he loves them so much: always speak to us, tell us how things are, explain and above all teach us not to be afraid of God's people, not to be afraid to be close.





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."