FOR JESUS, WE ARE NOT STRANGERS BUT BROTHERS. POPE FRANCIS’ ADDRESS GOOD SHEPHERD SUNDAY 2017
- Jesus as the Good Shepherd
- Jesus as the door of the sheep, of humanity’s salvation.
- Follow Jesus, the Risen One, as the only sure guide that gives meaning to our life.
Dear brethren in Christ, below you have a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave on May 7, 2017 before praying the midday Regina Coeli with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
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Before the Angelus:
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
In this Sunday’s Gospel (Cf. John 10:1-10), called “of the Good Shepherd,” Jesus presents Himself with two images that complement one another: the image of the shepherd and the image of the door of the sheepfold. The flock, which we all are, has as its habitation a sheepfold that serves as refuge, where the sheep dwell and rest after the exhaustion of the way. And the sheepfold is an enclosure with a door, where there is a guardian. Different persons approach the flock: there is one that enters the enclosure passing by the door and one that “climbs in by another way” (v. 1). The former is the shepherd; the latter is a stranger, who does not love the sheep, he wants to enter for other reasons. Jesus identifies Himself with the former and manifests a relation of familiarity with the sheep, expressed through His voice, with which He calls them and which they recognize and follow (Cf. v.3). He calls them to lead them out to grassy pastures, where they find good nourishment.
The second image with which Jesus presents Himself is that of the “door of the sheep” (v. 7). In fact, He says: “I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved” (v. 9), that is, he will have life, and have it abundantly (Cf. v. 10). Christ, the Good Shepherd, became the door of humanity’s salvation because He offered His life for His sheep.
Jesus, Good Shepherd and Door of the sheep, is a leader whose authority is expressed in service, a leader that to command gives His life and does not ask others to sacrifice it. We can trust such a leader, as the sheep that hear the voice of their shepherd, because they know that with him they go to good and abundant pastures. A signal suffices, a call and they follow, obey, set out on the way guided by the voice of him they sense as a friendly presence, strong and gentle at the same time, who directs, protects, consoles and medicates.
So is Christ for us. There is a dimension of the Christian experience that, perhaps, we leave somewhat in the shade: the spiritual and affective dimension, our feeling of being connected by a special bond to the Lord as the sheep to their shepherd. Sometimes we rationalize the faith too much and we risk losing the perception of the tone of that voice, of the voice of Jesus, Good Shepherd, who stimulates and fascinates. As happened to the two disciples of Emmaus, whose heart burned while the Risen One was speaking along the way. It is the wonderful experience of feeling oneself loved by Jesus. Ask yourselves the question: Do I feel loved by Jesus?” For Him, we are never strangers, but friends and brothers. Yet, it is not always easy to distinguish the voice of the good shepherd. Be careful. There is always the risk of being distracted by the din of so many other voices. Today we are invited not to allow ourselves to be diverted by the false wisdom of this world, but to follow Jesus, the Risen One, as the only sure guide that gives meaning to our life.
On this World Day of Prayer for Vocations – on particular for priestly vocations, so that the Lord will send us good Pastors — we invoke the Virgin Mary: may she accompany the ten new priests that I ordained a short while ago. I have asked four of them of the Diocese of Rome to come to give the blessing together with me. May Our Lady support with her help all those called by Him, so that they are prompt and generous in following His voice.
[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]