VATICAN CITY - Like the Good Shepherd, good priests do not
privatize their time and demand to be left alone, but rather
are always willing to risk everything in search of the lost
sheep, Pope Francis said at the closing Mass of the Jubilee
for Priests and Seminarians.
"He stands apart from no one, but is always ready to dirty
his hands. A good shepherd doesn't know what gloves are," the
pope said June 3.
Celebrating the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus with
thousands of priests in St. Peter's Square, the pope said the
feast serves as a call to contemplate two hearts: "the heart
of the Good Shepherd and our own heart as priests."
"The heart of the Good Shepherd reaches out to us, above all
to those who are most distant. There the needle of his
compass inevitably points, there we see a particular
'weakness' of his love, which desires to embrace all and lose
none," he said.
The feast also serves as a reminder to priests to ask
themselves toward which direction their hearts gear and which
treasure they seek.
"There are weaknesses in all of us, even sins, but let's go
deeper, to the roots. Where are the roots of our weaknesses,
of our sins? Where is that treasure that distances us from
the Lord?" he asked.
A good priest, he continued, does not have a "fluttering
heart" that is easily taken by "momentary whims" and "petty
satisfactions," but is "firmly rooted in the Lord" despite
his own sins.
Departing several times from his prepared homily, the pope
gave them advice: seek and include those who are far away and
He also lamented those in the priestly ministry who set aside
private time and space or demand to be left alone rather than
give their lives in the service of others.
"Woe to the shepherds who privatize their ministry," he said.
"A shepherd after the heart of God does not protect his own
comfort zone; he is not worried about protecting his good
name; he will be slandered like Jesus. But rather, without
fearing criticism, he is disposed to take risks in seeking to
imitate his Lord. Blessed are you when they insult you, when
they persecute you," he said.
A good shepherd excludes none of his flock and does "not
await greetings and compliments" but is the first one who
reaches out to others, listening patiently to their problems
and accompanying them with compassion.
"He does not scold those who wander off or lose their way,
but is always ready to bring them back and to resolve
difficulties and disagreements. He is a man who knows how to
include," the pope said.
A priest with the spirit of the Good Shepherd is "changed by
the mercy that he freely gives" and is happy to be a channel
of mercy that brings "men and women closer to the heart of
God," Pope Francis said.
"Sadness for him is not the norm, but only a step along the
way; harshness is foreign to him, because he is a shepherd
after the meek heart of God," he said.