06/03/2016, 11.33
VATICAN
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Pope: the heart of the priest "knows only two directions: the Lord and the people"

Francis concelebrates Mass with five thousand priests, concluding the Jubilee for Priests. The Good Shepherd who spends himself for his flock without "privatizing his time and" space is dedicated to mission with all his being, excludes no one, is full of joy, "transformed by the mercy that he freely  gives”.

 

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The heart of the priest "knows only two directions: the Lord and the people." "pierced by the Lord" he does not look to himself, but is open to God and to others. "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". Pope Francis centered his homily for the Mass of the Jubilee of Priests on the "heart" of the priesthood, celebrated in St. Peter's Square on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The Jubilee began Wednesday , yesterday the Pope led three meditations on the theme of mercy and today it closes with Mass concelebrated by Francis with twenty cardinals, 50 bishops and more than five thousand priests who came to Rome from around the world.

Speaking to them Francis returned to the model of the Good Shepherd who spends himself for his flock without "privatizing his time or space", is dedicates all of his being to his mission, excludes no one, is full of joy, "transformed by mercy that he freely gives”.

He said: “Contemplating the Heart of Christ, we are faced with the fundamental question of our priestly life: Where is my heart directed? A question we priests must ask ourselves frequently: every day, every week ... But where my heart is oriented? Ministry is often filled with many initiatives, which pull us in so many different directions: from catechesis to liturgy, to charities, pastoral and even administrative commitments. In the midst of many activities the question remains: Where is my heart directed? The beautiful prayer of today’s liturgy comes to mind ... Where is our treasure? Because - Jesus says - "where your treasure is, there also will your heart be" (Mt 6:21). But there are weaknesses in all of us, even sins. But let's go deeper, to the very root. Where is the root of our weaknesses, our sins, that 'treasure' that distances us from the Lord? ".

“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 does not put off the search. He does not think: “I have done enough for today; 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.  Such is a heart that seeks out – a heart that does not set aside times and spaces as private, a heart that is not jealous of its legitimate quiet time 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 rather, without fearing criticism, he is disposed to take risks in seeking to imitate his Lord.  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. 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 not drawn by his own “I”, but by the “Thou” of God and by the “we” of other men and women”.

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. 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”.

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 the words of Christ: “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” to giving your life in union with Jesus: for in this is found the pure source of our joy”.

 

For the three meditations that Pope Francis gave on the occasion of the Jubilee of Priests, go to the following links:

First meditation

Second meditation

Third meditation

 

 

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