"The greatest shepherd, the Father, taught us how to be a good shepherd: he lowered Himself, emptied himself, abased Himself, took on servant status. "But, and these others, those who follow the path of clericalism, who do they draw near to?" They draw near to those in power or money or influence. And they are the bad shepherds. "
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The good pastor is always close to the people, even to the least, able to move and not ashamed to touch the wounded flesh. Those who follow clericalism are close to power of influence or money, said Pope Francis at Mass at Casa Santa Marta this morning, commenting on the Gospel of Luke, which tells the healing of the crippled woman.
One Saturday in Synagogue Jesus meets a woman who has been crippled for years and is unable to stand up straight. The Pope notes how Luke uses five verbs to describe Jesus’ actions as the good shepherd who is always close to his people. Jesus saw, he called her, he spoke to her, he laid his hands on her and he cured her. But the doctors of the Law, the Pharisees and Sadducees, those who are very distant from their people, rebuke him continuously. These were not good shepherds, the pope explained, as they were closed within their own world and not interested in their people. Or perhaps, he added, they were only interested in them when the service was over and they wanted to see how much money had been collected.
Jesus, on the other hand, is close to the woman and this closeness comes from the compassion he feels in his heart. Pope Francis said Jesus was always there with the most marginalized people, those who had been rejected by the clerical crowd, the poor and the sick, the sinners and the lepers. The good shepherd comes close and feels compassion, he said, adding that he is not ashamed to touch the wounded flesh of those marginalized people, just as Jesus did. A good shepherd, the pope insisted, doesn’t say, “Yes, yes, I’m with you in spirit,” and keep his distance, but rather he does what God did in sending his Son: he taught us to show mercy and compassion by lowering himself, emptying himself and making himself a servant to others.
The clerical crowd, Pope Francis continued, are only close to power and money, making friends with influential people and worrying about their own pockets. They are the hypocrites who are not interested in their people but become offended when Jesus accuses them, saying that they always follow the Law. Luke tells us that the whole crowd rejoiced when Jesus’ adversaries were humiliated – while that is a sin, the pope said, the people were glad because they had suffered so much. But the good shepherd, he concluded, is the one who sees, calls, speaks, touches and heals. Just as God came close to us through Jesus Christ, he said, all of us will be judged by how we try to be close to those who are hungry, sick, in prison or in any kind of need.