Pope advises priests: Be present and available for your people


Source: Vatican News Service

During morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta today, Pope Francis advised priests to always try to show Jesus' closeness and tenderness to their parishioners - to always be in their midst - ending the day tired from doing good, not seeing parishioners only during office 'hours.'

Reflecting on the Gospel (Mark 5:21-43) which he said describes "a day in the life of Jesus" and healing stories, which are "models for shepherd, bishops, and priests," the Holy Father observed that Jesus was alway "with the people,' in their midst, not absent, and he cared for them.

"Jesus did not open an office for spiritual counselling with a sign reading: 'The prophet receives on Monday and Friday from 3pm until 6pm. Entry costs this much, or if you prefer, you can make an offering.' No, Jesus does not do that.... He doesn't even open a medical office with a sign reading: 'The sick may come on such-and-such day, and they will be healed'. Jesus throws himself in the midst of the people."

That presence and availability, Pope Francis said, is an example of being a shepherd. He then told a story about a holy priest who accompanied his people. The Pope said this man was tired in the evenings but that it was a "real tiredness" of "one who truly works" with people.

The Holy Father also recommended that difficulties are confronted with tenderness. Recalling that during their ordination, bishops and priests are anointed with oil, Francis said the 'true oil' is that of closeness and tenderness.

"The shepherd who doesn't know how to get close to people, is lacking something." Pope Francis said. "Even if he is a "master in the field," "he is no shepherd."

A good shepherd, Pope Francis said, "ends his day tired." If his attitude is of doing good, he said, the people will feel the presence of the living God.

Pope Francis concluded, praying: "Today we could pray during this Mass for our shepherds, that the Lord give them the grace to walk with the people and to be present for them with much tenderness and closeness.

"When the people finds their shepherd, they feel that special sensation only felt in the presence of God, as today's Gospel ends: 'they were utterly astounded.' This amazement comes from feeling the closeness and the tenderness of God in the shepherd," he said.

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