04/18/2019, 13.46
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Pope: "the poor", "the blind", "the wounded" models for priests

Francis celebrates the Chrism Mass, which precedes the beginning of the Easter Triduum.  To the priests Francis proposes faces of the "crowd" that surrounds, follows, admires Jesus. "In the soul of the people the desire to follow Jesus is awakened, arousing admiration, discernment".


 Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The "crowd" that accompanied Jesus, followed him, admired him and in particular those who in the crowd are "preferential recipients of the anointing of the Lord", this is the evangelical model of priests, who are "the poor", "the blind", "the wounded beaten to death".

The priests are the center of the Chrism Mass and during the rite, which precedes the beginning of the Easter Triduum.  In cathedrals across the world the priests, together with their bishop, renew the promises made at the time of their ordination and there is the blessing of the oil of the catechumens and the sick and the chrism used for confirmation and priestly ordination.  This is also the case in of St Peter's basilica, crowded with over a thousand priests of the diocese of Rome, gathered with their bishop, who is the Pope.  This afternoon he will celebrate Mass in Coena Domini in the prison of Velletri, in the province of Rome, during which he will preside over the ritual of washing the feet of some prisoners.

To the priests Francis proposed faces of the "crowd" that surrounds, follows, admires Jesus and learn thier model from:“We priests are the poor man and we would like to have the heart of the poor widow whenever we give alms, touching the hand of the beggar and looking him or her in the eye.  We priests are Bartimaeus, and each morning we get up and pray: “Lord, that I may see”.  We priests are, in some point of our sinfulness, the man beaten by the robbers.  And we want first to be in the compassionate hands of the good Samaritan, in order then to be able to show compassion to others with our own hands.”.

Jesus “always kept the grace of closeness with the people as a whole, and with each individual.  We see this throughout his public life, and so it was from the beginning: the radiance of the Child gently attracted shepherds, kings and elderly dreamers like Simeon and Anna.  So it was on the cross: his Heart draws all people to himself (Jn 12:32): Veronicas, Cyreneans, thieves, centurions...Deep within, people feel the desire to follow Jesus, amazement wells up, discernment grows apace.”.

Following, admiration and discernment are the three graces highlighted by Francis.

The grace of following "” is something completely unexpected, unconditional and full of affection.  It contrasts with the small-mindedness of the disciples, whose attitude towards people verges on cruelty when they suggest to the Lord that he send them away, so that they can get something to eat.  Here, I believe, was the beginning of clericalism: in this desire to be assured of a meal and personal comfort without any concern for the people.  The Lord cut short that temptation: “You, give them something to eat!” was Jesus’ response.  “Take care of the people!”

"The second grace that the crowd receives when it follows Jesus is that of joy-filled amazement.  People were amazed by Jesus (Lk 11:14), by his miracles, but above all by his very person.  People loved to meet him along the way, to receive his blessing and to bless him, like the woman in the midst of the crowd who blessed his Mother.  The Lord himself was amazed by people’s faith; he rejoiced and he lost no opportunity to speak about it.

 "The third grace that people receive is that of discernment.  “The crowds found out [where Jesus had gone], and followed him” (Lk 9:11).  They “were astounded by his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority” (Mt 7:28-29; cf. Lk 5:26).  Christ, the Word of God come in the flesh, awakens in people this charism of discernment, which is certainly not the discernment of those who specialize in disputed questions.  When the Pharisees and the teachers of the law debated with him, what people discerned was Jesus’ authority, the power of his teaching to touch their hearts, and the fact that evil spirits obeyed him (leaving momentarily speechless those who tried to trap him by their questions; the people liked that)."

Of the crowd, Luke indicates four great groups that are preferential recipients of the anointing of the Lord: the poor, prisoners, the blind, the oppressed.

“The poor (in Greek, ptochoi) are those who are bent over, like beggars who bow down and ask for alms.  But poor too (ptochè) was that widow who anointed with her fingers the two small coins which were all she had to live on that day.  The anointing by the widow to give alms went unnoticed by the eyes of all except Jesus, who looks kindly on her lowliness.  Through her, the Lord can accomplish fully his mission of proclaiming the Gospel to the poor.  Paradoxically, the disciples heard the good news that people like her exist.  She – the generous woman – could not imagine that she would “make it to the Gospel”, that her simple gesture would be recorded in the Gospel.  Like all those men and women who are the “saints next door”, she lives interiorly the joyful fact that her actions “carry weight” in the Kingdom, and are worth more than all the riches of the world."

"The blind are represented by one of the most likable figures in the Gospel: Bartimaeus (cf. Mt 10:46-52), the blind beggar who regained his sight and, from that moment on, only had eyes to follow Jesus on his journey.  The anointing of the gaze!  Our gaze, to which the eyes of Jesus can restore the brightness which only gratuitous love can give, the brightness daily stolen from us by the manipulative and banal images with which the world overwhelm."

"To refer to the oppressed (in Greek, tethrausmenoi), Luke uses a word that contains the idea of “trauma”.  It is enough to evoke the parable – perhaps Luke’s favourite – of the Good Samaritan, who anoints with oil and binds the wounds (traumata: Lk 10:34) of the man who had been beaten by robbers and left lying at the side of the road.  The anointing of the wounded flesh of Christ!  In that anointing we find the remedy for all those traumas that leave individuals, families and entire peoples ignored, excluded and unwanted, on the sidelines of history."

"The captives are prisoners of war (in Greek, aichmalotoi), those who had been led at the point of a spear (aichmé).  Jesus would use the same word in speaking of the taking of Jerusalem, his beloved city, and the deportation of its people (Lk 21:24).  Our cities today are taken prisoner not so much at spear point, but by more subtle means of ideological colonization."

"As for us, dear brother priests, we must not forget that our evangelical models are those “people”, the “crowd” with its real faces, which the anointing of the Lord raises up and revives.  They are the ones who complete and make real the anointing of the Spirit in ourselves; they are the ones whom we have been anointed to anoint.  We have been taken from their midst, and we can fearlessly identify with these ordinary people.  They are an image of our soul and an image of the Church.  Each of them incarnates the one heart of our people”.

“Let us pray - he concluded - by setting us with Jesus in the midst of our people, may the Father renew deep within us the Spirit of holiness; may he grant that we be one in imploring his mercy for the people entrusted to our care and for all the world.  In this way, the multitude of the peoples, gathered in Christ, may become the one faithful people of God, which will attain its fullness in the Kingdom (cf. Prayer of Priestly Ordination).”

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