“Bother your pastors, disturb your pastors, all of us pastors, so that we will give you the milk of grace, of doctrine, and of guidance.” Departing from his prepared remarks, Pope Francis on Sunday called on the faithful to knock at the doors of their pastors “and on their hearts,” saying it would help Bishops and priests be good pastors.
The Holy Father made his remarks to the pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter’s Square for the weekly Regina Caeli prayer. His remarks focused on the image of Jesus the Good Shepherd, taken from the day’s Gospel reading. Many people are proposed to us as shepherds or pastors for our daily lives, he said. “But only the risen Christ is the true Shepherd, who gives us life in abundance.” Jesus not only guides us, but accompanies us on our journey “He walks with us.” Pope Francis called on us to “listen with open minds and hearts to His Word, in order to feed our faith, illuminate our consciences” and allow us “to follow the teachings of the Gospel.”
On Good Shepherd Sunday, the Pope said, we pray for all the pastors in the Church, especially Bishops and priests. He sent special greetings to the thirteen men he had ordained to the priesthood earlier in the day, and prayed that the Lord would help all pastors “to be wise and enlightened guides for the people of God entrusted” to them.
And he asked, too, for the help of the faithful. Taking an example from the works of St Caesarius of Arles (an early Church father), he talked about how calves will nudge their mothers with their noses so the mother’s will give them milk. “A beautiful image,” he said. And that, he said, is how the people of God should be with their pastors, calling on them, disturbing them, even to the point of being troublesome or burdensome.
Pastors, on the other hand, should be imitators of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Every pastor, he said, quoting the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, “will sometimes go before his people, pointing the way and keeping their hope vibrant; the pastor should go ahead at times. At other times, he will simply be in their midst with his unassuming and merciful presence. At yet other times, he will have to walk after them, helping those who lag behind.” He expressed his wish that all pastors would follow that model… but then called on the faithful once again to “bother your pastors so that they will give us the guidance of doctrine and grace!”
Concluding his reflections, Pope Francis recalled the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, commemorated on Sunday. Every vocation, he said, “always requires an exodus from oneself in order to centre one’s life on Christ and on His Gospel.” But the call of the Lord to a religious vocation is always in danger of being stifled by other voices and other calls. And so, the Pope said, we should pray for young people that they might hear and respond to the voice of the Lord calling them.
Following the recitation of the Regina Caeli, Pope Francis greeted pilgrims from Italy and around the world. He concluded his greetings with a special thought for mothers: “Today I invite you to dedicate a good memory and a prayer for all mothers,” he said, before leading the faithful in prayer “for our mothers and for all mothers.”
Source: Vatican Radio