Pope Francis Talks about the Disciples, Jesus and Pastors 24.04.20
Pope Francis: Talks about the Disciples, Jesus and Pastors and prays for Students and Teachers 24.04.20
Pope Francis 24.04.20 Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae) Friday of the Second Week of Easter John 6:1-15
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.