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Dear brothers and sisters, hello!
On this fourth Sunday of the Easter season. John the Evangelist presents to us the image of Jesus the Good Shepherd. Contemplating this passage of the Gospel, we can understand what type of relationship Jesus had with this disciples: a relationship based on tenderness, on love, on mutual knowledge and on the promise of a gift that is beyond measure: “I have come,” says Jesus “that they might have life and have it in abundance.” (John 10:10). Such a relationship is the model of relationships among Christians and of human relations.
Today too, as in Jesus’ time, many people propose themselves as “shepherds” of our lives; but only the Risen One is the true Shepherd, who gives us life in abundance. I invite everyone to have faith in the Lord who guides us. But he does not only guide us, he accompanies us, he journeys with us. Let us listen with a mind and heart open to his Word to nourish our faith, enlighten our conscience and follow the teachings of the Gospel.
On this Sunday let us pray for the Shepherds of the Church, for all bishops, including the Bishop, for all priests, for all of them! In particular let us pray for the new priests of the Diocese of Rome, whom I ordained earlier today in the Basilica of St. Peter. Greetings to these 13 priests! May the Lord help us shepherds always to be faithful to the Master and wise and enlightened guides of the people of God entrusted to us. I als ask you, please, help us to be good pastors. Once I read something beautiful about how the people of God help bishops and priests be good shepherds. It is a text of St. Caesarius of Arles, a father of the first centuries of the Church. He explains how the people of God must help the shepherd and gave the following example. When the calf is hungry, he does to the cow, to the mother, to get milk. The cow, however, does not immediately give it to him: it seems that she is keeping it for herself. And what does the calf do? He knocks against the cow’s udder with his head so that the milk comes out. It is a beautiful image! “So you too,” the saint says, “must be like this with the shepherds. Always knock at their door, at their heart, so that they give you the milk of doctrine, the milk of grace and the milk of leadership.” And I ask you, please, to importune the shepherds, to disturb them, all of us shepherds, so that we can give you the milk of grace, of doctrine and of leadership. Importune [us]! Think of that beautiful image of that calf, how he importunes the mother so that she gives him something to eat.
In imitation of Jesus, every Shepherd “will sometimes go before his people, pointing the way and keeping their hope vibrant. 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” (“Evangelii gaudium,” 31). May all shepherds be like this! But you must importune the shepherds, so that they give you the guide of doctrine and grace.
This Sunday is the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. In this year’s message I noted that “every vocation requires in each case an exodus out of ourselves to center our existence on Christ and his Gospel” (2). This is why the call to follow Jesus is both thrilling and demanding. Its realization always requires that we enter into deep friendship with the Lord so that we are able to live from him and for him.
Let us pray that in this time many young people hear the Lord’s voice, a voice that is always threatened with being drowned out by many other voices. Let us pray for young people. Perhaps here in the piazza there is someone who hears this voice of the Lord calling him to the priesthood. Let us pray for him, if he is here, and for all young people who are called.
[Following the recitation of the Regina Caeli, the Holy Father again addressed those present in St. Peter’s Square:]
Dear brothers and sisters,
I greet all of you, families, parish groups, associations and individual faithful from Italy and many other countries, especially those from the Diocese of Campo Grande and Dourados (Brazil), New York, Las Palmas (Canary Islands), and the students from Miranda Do Corvo, Portugal and the young people of the Heart of Mary school from Alta Cordoba, Argentina.
I greet the Neocatechumenal Community that during these Sundays of the Easter season take the announcement of the risen Jesus to 100 piazzas in Rome and to many other cities of the world. May the Lord give you the joy of the Gospel! And go forward, you, who are good!
I give a special blessing for children and young people who received or are about to receive First Communion or Confirmation. I also give a special blessing to the relatives and friends of the new priests of the Diocese of Rome whom I ordained this morning.
I greet the State Forest Corps, who are organizing the national celebration of natural preserves; the members of “Giovane Montagna,” who arrived in Rome by way of the Via Francigena; the Italian Network for Cures and Support in Oncology, encouraging their work with sick people and their relatives; the Civil Protection group of Viggiù-Clivio; and the motorcyclists of San Marino and Abruzzo.
And today I invite you to remember and say a pray for mothers. Let us salute mothers! Entrusting them to the mother of Jesus, let us pray to Our Lady for our mothers and for all mothers. “Hail Mary... .”
A big salute to mothers, a big salute!
Have a good Sunday, everyone! Have a good lunch and goodbye!
[Translation by Joseph Trabbic]