01/31/2019, 00.00
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Pope: priests should be full of joy like Don Bosco

On the day dedicated to the founder of the Salesian order, Francis said that priests should look "with the eyes of human beings and the eyes of God". He did not reach out only with Catechism and the Crucifix, telling people “Do this!” No, "He got them to play, put them in a group, like brothers . . .  he went forth, walked with them; he heard with them, saw them, cried with them and brought them on forward”.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis celebrated Mass in Casa Santa Marta this morning. In his homily, he focused on St John Bosco on the day dedicated to the saint who founded the Salesian order, noting that priests should be full of joy and see people with the “eyes of human beings and the eyes of God”.

The pontiff said that, on the day of Don Bosco’s ordination, his mother, a humble peasant woman, “who had never studied in the faculty of theology, said to him: ‘Today you will begin to suffer.’ She wanted to emphasise a reality, but also draw his attention because if her son did not see suffering, it would mean things were not going well. ‘This is the prophecy of a mother, a simple woman with a heart full of the spirit,” the Pope said.

“For a priest, then, suffering is a sign that things are going well, not because he is performing the act of ‘a fakir’, but because he has the courage, like Saint John Bosco, to look upon reality with the eyes of human beings and the eyes of God. In a ‘masonic, anti-clerical age,’ he saw ‘a closed aristocracy, in which the poor were really poor and discarded, and noted young people on the streets and said ‘this cannot be!’’

“He saw with the eyes of a man, a man who is a brother but also a father, and said, “No, things can’t go on like this! These youths might end up on the gallows, [ministered to] by Don Cafasso . . . Bo, things can’t go on like this.”

And he was moved as a man, and as a man he began to think of ways to raise the youngsters, to make the youths grow. [To follow] Human paths.” [. . .], he had the courage to see with the eyes of God, and to go to God and say, ‘Make me see this . . . this is an injustice . . .  how do I deal with this . . . You have created these people for to be whole, and they are in the midst of a real tragedy . . .”. And so, seeing reality with the love of a father – a father and teacher, says today’s liturgy– and seeing God with the eyes of a beggar who asks for light, he began to go forward.”

Fr Giuseppe Cafasso comforted prison inmates in 19th century Turin, often going along with death row prisoners to the gallows. He was a great friend of Saint John Bosco.

Clergymen must look at reality through “the eyes of human beings” and "the eyes of God”, which means spending "a long time in front of the tabernacle".

“Looking this way made him see the path, so that he did not simply reach out with the catechism and the crucifix: ‘Do this!’ with the youths saying, ‘Good night, see you later.’ No, no. He drew close to them, with their liveliness. He got them to play, put them in groups, like brothers. Thus, he went forth, walked with them. The priest who looks on the people in a human way, who is always at hand.

The Pope went on to say that priests must not be officials or employees who receive "from 3 to 5.30 pm". “We have plenty of good officials, who do their job, as officials must. But priests are not officials, they cannot be.”

Looking with human eyes, priests “will come to the realisation, see the wisdom of understanding that others are your children, your brothers and sisters” and provide them “with the courage to go out there to struggle. A priest is someone who struggles with God.”

For the Holy Father, “There is always the risk of focusing too much on the human and nothing on the divine, or too much on divine and nothing on the human.” He warns that “if we do not take risks, we won’t accomplish anything in life.” This certainly entails a degree of suffering; persecution and chatter begin. “See that priest standing there, in the street,” with those poorly behaved children, who “will break my window” with the ball.

Pope Francis thanked God for “gifting us” Don Bosco, who began to work as a child, who learnt what it meant to earn one’s daily bread, and understood what true piety was, “what the true truth was”.

“What is the sign that a priest is doing well, seeing reality with the eyes of human beings and the eyes of God? Joy. When a priest does not find joy within, he should stop immediately and ask himself why. Don Bosco’s joy is known, right? Because he made others joyful, and rejoiced himself. And he suffered.

“Today, let us ask the Lord, through Don Bosco’s intercession, for the grace that our priests be full of joy, so much so that they may be sharp enough to look at the things of the pastoral ministry, [and] the people of God with the eyes of human beings and the eyes of God.

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