Pope: Christ, the Good Shepherd, has become the gate to humanity’s salvation because he has offered his life for his sheep
Before the Regina Caeli, Pope Francis explained the symbols of today's Gospel. Jesus "is a leader whose authority is expressed in the service [. . .] Once can trust such a leader." He is a " a friendly, strong and sweet presence, who leads, protects, consoles, and heals." Too often we leave "spiritual and affective dimension" in the shadow. May Christ sustain "all those who are called by Him, so that they may be ready and generous in following His voice.” Seven martyrs of the Spanish Civil War were beatified yesterday. The pontiff calls on the faithful to pray the rosary in May "for peace, as the Virgin asked in Fatima."
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "Christ, the Good Shepherd, has become the gate to humanity’s salvation because he has offered his life for his sheep,” said Pope Francis, joining the two images related to Jesus in today’s Gospel, that of the fourth Sunday of Easter (Jn 10: 1-10), traditionally dedicated to "the Good Shepherd," in which Jesus speaks of himself as "shepherd" and as the “gate for the sheep”.
In his reflection before the Regina Caeli with pilgrims in St Peter's Square, the pontiff said, "The flock, all of us, have a sheepfold as home, which serves as refuge, where the sheep live and rest after the efforts of the journey. The sheepfold has a fence and a gate with a gatekeeper. Several people approach the flock: some enter the enclosure through the gate but someone ‘climbs over elsewhere’ (v. 1). The first one is the shepherd, the second is a stranger who does not love the sheep. Jesus identifies himself with the first and shows that he knows the sheep, expressed through his voice, by which he calls them and they recognise and follow him (v. 3). He calls them to lead them out to the grassy pastures where they can find good nourishment.”
The second image with which Jesus appears is that of the "gate for the sheep" (v. 7). In fact, he says, "I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.” (v. 9) [. . .] that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (v. 10).
"Jesus, a good shepherd and gate for the sheep is a leader whose authority is expressed in service, a leader who gives life in order to lead and does not ask others to sacrifice it. One can trust such a leader, like the sheep who hear the voice of their shepherd, because they know that with him they can go to good and abundant pastures. Only a sign, a call to them, is needed for them to follow, obey, and walk led by the voice of those whom they feel as a friendly, strong and sweet presence, a voice that leads, protects, consoles, and heals. This is how Christ is for us."
The pope also spoke about the "spiritual and affective dimension" that binds us to Christ: a dimension "of the Christian experience that perhaps we leave somewhat in the shadow."
"Sometimes, we rationalise the faith too much and risk losing the perception of the stamp of that voice, that of Jesus the Good Shepherd, who stimulates and fascinates. This is what happened to the two disciples in Emmaus, whose heart was burning whilst the Risen one spoke along the way. This is the wonderful experience of feeling loved by Jesus [Ask yourself: Do I feel loved by Jesus?]. For Him we are never strangers, we are friends and brothers. Yet it is not always easy to distinguish the good shepherd's voice. There is always the danger of the thief, the brigand and the false shepherd. There is always the risk of being distracted by the frustration of so many other voices. Today we are invited not to be distracted of the false wisdom of this world, but to follow Jesus the Risen One as the only sure guide that gives meaning to our lives."
“On this World day of prayer for priestly vocations, we call on the Virgin Mary. May She accompany the ten new priests I just ordained. I asked four new members of the diocese of Rome to come out with me to give the blessing. May Our Lady support with her help all those who are called by Him, so that they may be ready and generous in following His voice. "
After the Marian pascal prayer, Francis mentioned the beatification, yesterday, in Girona (Spain), of Antonio Arribas Hortigüela and six companions, religious with the Congregation of Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, who were persecuted and killed during the Spanish Civil War. "May their martyrdom,” he said, “accepted for the love of God and for their loyalty to their vocation, arouse in the Church the desire to bear witness with fortitude to the Gospel of charity."
The pontiff also said that "tomorrow we will address the Supplication to Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii". He called on the faithful to pray the rosary "this month of May . . . in particular for peace, as the Virgin asked in Fatima, where I will go on pilgrimage within a few days, for the centenary of the first appearance."
The pope also greeted a number of groups, singling out one from Chennai (India).