Monday, April 30, 2012

Pope John Paul II on Jesus the Good Shepherd

I share with you today a homily preached by Pope John Paul II at Mass on the Fourth Sunday of Easter 2004, during a liturgy of priestly ordination. He spoke of "the compassionate gaze" of the Good Shepherd; and he reminded the ordinands, "Jesus must always be the centre of your life."  

"The Good Shepherd is risen! He who laid down his life for his sheep... Alleluia" (Communion Antiphon). 

The liturgy today invites us to fix our gaze on Christ the Good Shepherd. Agnus redemit oves, the Easter Sequence sings. "The sheep are ransomed by the Lamb". The Only-Begotten Son of the Father, the Good Shepherd of humanity, died on the Cross and, on the third day, rose from the dead. 

This is the Good News that the Apostles, clothed with power by the Holy Spirit, brought to all the peoples, starting with Jerusalem (cf. Luke 24: 47-49). This is the Good News that continues to ring out at the beginning of the third millennium. The compassionate gaze of Christ, the risen Good Shepherd, is the origin of the gift and mystery of the vocation to pastoral ministry in the Church. 

Dear Deacons who will shortly be ordained priests, your call to the priesthood was born from this same loving gaze. I welcome you with affection and greet you, one by one ... I would like to express my deep gratitude to your families, to the priests who have supervised your formation and the growth of your faith, and to all those who, together with your parish communities and the ecclesial situations to which you belong, have helped you to discover the "gift and mystery" of your vocation and to say "yes" to the Lord's call. 

You are becoming priests at a time when even here in Rome strong cultural trends seem to want to make people forget God, especially young people and families. 

But do not be afraid: God will always be with you! With his help you will be able to find the paths that lead to the heart of every person, and proclaim to all that the Good Shepherd laid down his life for them and wants them to share in his mystery of love and salvation. 

However, to accomplish this very necessary task Jesus must always be the centre of your life, and you must maintain deep union with him through prayer, daily personal meditation, fidelity to the Liturgy of the Hours and, above all, the devout daily celebration of the Eucharist. 

If you are filled with God, you will be true apostles of the new evangelization, for no one can give what he does not have in his heart.

Go HERE for the full text.


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