04/26/2015, 00.00
VATICAN
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Pope prays for Nepal quake victims, hopes they receive "fraternal solidarity"

A good shepherd is like Christ, someone who “is a guide, who participates in the life of His flock. He pursues no other interests, for He has no other ambition but to lead, nurture and protect his sheep. All of this comes at the highest price, that of the sacrifice of His own life.” When the pope met the crowd at the window of his study, two new priests stood by his side.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The Pope has been praying for victims of yesterday’s earthquake in Nepal, calling for help for stricken country.

The Holy Father had already expressed his closeness to the people affected by the quake in a telegram sent by Vatican Secretary of State Card Pietro Parolin to Mgr Paul Simick, apostolic vicar of Nepal.

Today, after the Regina Coeli, the pontiff reiterated his “closeness to people affected by a strong earthquake in Nepal and neighbouring countries. I pray for the victims, for the wounded and for all who suffer because of this disaster. May they receive the support of fraternal solidarity. Let us pray to Our Lady who is close to them.”

Before the Marian prayer, Francis spoke before a crowd of some 70,000 people in St Peter's Square, about the ordination of new priests that had just taken place inside the basilica. In doing so, he stressed the importance of the Good Shepherd, who “is not motivated by any necessity, nor [. . .] any forethought, or drawn to any interested quid pro quo”.

For the Holy Father, “In particular, those who have a leadership mission in the Church – priests, bishops, popes – are called not to take a ‘managerial’ mind-set; instead, they must act like servants, in imitation of Jesus who, stripping himself, saved us with His mercy.”

Standing at the window of his study, Francis with two of the new priests by his side blessed the crowd.

“Each year, on the Fourth Sunday of Easter, known as ‘Good Shepherd Sunday,’ we are invited to rediscover, with greater wonder, the definition Jesus gave of Himself, reading anew in light of His Passion, Death and Resurrection.

“‘The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep’ (Jn 10:11), words that came true when Christ fully, and freely obeying the will of the Father, sacrificed himself on the Cross. Thus, the meaning of his being ‘the Good Shepherd’ becomes clear. He gives life, He offered His life as a sacrifice for all of us: for you, for you, for you, for me, for everyone! For this reason, he is the good shepherd!

“Christ is the true shepherd, the one who realises the highest form of love for the flock. He freely laid down His own life. No one will take it from him (cf. v. 18); he gives it on behalf of the sheep (v. 17). In open opposition to false shepherds, Jesus presents himself as the only true shepherd of the people. The bad shepherd thinks about himself and uses the sheep. The good shepherd thinks about the sheep and gives himself. Unlike the mercenary, Christ the Shepherd is a caring guide, who participates in the life of His flock. He pursues no other interests, for He has no other ambition but to lead, nurture and protect his sheep. All of this comes at the highest price, that of the sacrifice of His own life.

“In the figure of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, we contemplate God's providence, His paternal concern for each of us. The consequence of such contemplation of Jesus, a true and good Shepherd, is the moving astonishment found in the Second Reading in today's Liturgy: "See what love the Father has bestowed on us . . ." (Jn, 3:1)

“This is a really surprising and mysterious form of love, because, in giving us Jesus as the Shepherd who gives His life for us, the Father gave us the greatest and most valuable thing he could possibly give us! It is the highest and purest form of love because it is not motivated by any necessity, nor is it conditioned by any forethought, or drawn to any interested quid pro quo. Faced with God’s love, we feel great joy and open up to gratitude for what we have received for free.

However, “it is not enough to contemplate and give thanks. One should also follow the Good Shepherd. In particular, those who have a leadership mission in the Church – priests, bishops, popes – are called not to take a ‘managerial’ mind-set; instead, they must act like servants, in imitation of Jesus who, stripping himself, saved us with His mercy.

“The new priests of the Diocese of Rome, whom I have had the joy of ordaining this morning in St Peter's Basilica, are also called to the pastoral lifestyle of the Good Shepherd. Two of them will appear [at the window] to greet you and thank you for your prayers.

Lastly, “May the Most Holy Mary attain for me, the bishops and the priests of the whole world the grace to serve the holy people of God through the joyful proclamation of the Gospel, the heartfelt celebration of the sacraments and the exercise of patient and mild pastoral leadership.”

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