As the Church marks Good Shepherd Sunday, April 25, Pope Francis celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica with the Rite of Ordination of Priests.
The Pope, the Bishop of Rome, ordained nine deacons to the priesthood. They are: Georg Marius Bogdan, Salvatore Marco Montone, Manuel Secci, Diego Armando Barrera Parra, Salvatore Lucchesi, Giorgio de Iuri, Riccardo Cendamo, Samuel Piermarini, and Mateus Henrique Ataide da Cruz.
Expression of Christ’s priesthood
In his homily, Pope Francis urged the nine men to focus their gaze always on Christ as they serve His people.
He said their ministry is an expression of Christ’s own office of Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd.
“Priests,” said the Pope, “are established co-workers of the Order of Bishops, with whom they are joined in the priestly office and with whom they are called to the service of the people of God.”
He added that their task is to “preach the Gospel, to shepherd God’s people, and to celebrate the sacred Liturgy, especially the Lord’s sacrifice.”
The Pope then stressed that in becoming priests "you will be like Him: a shepherd". This, he continued "is not a career", but "a service".
Pope Francis asked the priests to adopt four forms of closeness in their service.. "closeness to God, closeness to the Bishop, closeness to each other and closeness to the people of God".
All these, he continued, must be performed with "a style of compassion and tenderness".
Be open to problems
"Don't close your heart to problems" urged the Pope. He explained that it is so important to take time to listen to and console those who present themselves with problems. This is compassion, explained the Pope, "which leads to forgiveness, to mercy". Please, urged the Pope, "be merciful, be forgiving, because God forgives everything, he does not get tired of forgiving".
Say 'no' to vanity
Pope Francis then warned of the perils of vanity and "the pride of money". The devil comes through your pockets, warned the Pope: "be poor, as poor are God's holy faithful people".
Bringing his homily to a close, Pope Francis recalled that these four forms of closeness are the "path to being shepherds" because "Jesus consoles shepherds, because He is the good shepherd".
"Seek consolation in Jesus", concluded the Pope, and "carry the crosses" in your lives. "Do not be afraid", he said, "everything will be alright".