Update 4/5/20 23:22 CET:
On World Press Freedom Day Sunday, Pope Francis encouraged journalists to be at the service of truth, peace and the voiceless, especially in the context of COVID-19.
“During the current crisis, we need good, free journalism that serves all people, especially those who do not have a voice: journalism that is dedicated to the search for truth and which opens paths toward communion and peace”, the pontiff wrote on Twitter.
Original post 3/5/20 15:00 CET:
(Source: CD/Vatican News)
Courage to respond to God’s call
He commented that this day reminds us of what Jesus said, “that the field of the Kingdom of God requires much work, and we must pray to the Father to send labourers to work in His field”.
The Pope noted that “Christian existence is always a response to God’s call, in any state of life”.
He also stressed that “priesthood and the consecrated life require courage and perseverance; and without prayer one cannot continue along this path”.
“I invite everyone”, said Pope Francis, “to ask the Lord for the gift of good labourers for His Kingdom, with hearts and hands open to His love”.
Closeness during pandemic
During his words following the recitation of the Regina Caeli, the Pope again expressed his closeness those who are suffering from COVID-19, and to those caring for people stricken by the virus at this time.
Pope Francis also expressed his support for an international collaboration that is taking place with various initiatives to respond adequately and effectively to this serious crisis.
It is important, he said, “to bring together scientific capacities, in a transparent and disinterested way, to find vaccines and treatments and to guarantee universal access to essential technologies that will enable every infected person, in every part of the world, to receive the necessary health care”.
Underlining the importance of prayer at this difficult time, the Pope said he had accepted a proposal of the Higher Committee for Human Fraternity that on this coming 14 May, “believers of all religions should unite spiritually for a day of prayer and fasting, to implore God to help humanity overcome the coronavirus pandemic”.
Concluding the Regina Caeli, the Pope addressed a special thought to the Italian based Association “Meter”, which is promoting a National Day for children who are victims of violence, exploitation and indifference.
He also remembered Our Lady in this Marian month of May, and encouraged the faithful to spiritually visit shrines dedicated to Mary during this health emergency.
The Pope’s catechesis: “God proposes Himself, He does not impose Himself”
Earlier Sunday, in his catechesis, Pope Francis delved into the Gospel of the day, which is dedicated to Jesus the Good Shepherd.
The Pope recalled that the reading says that, “the sheep hear His voice, as He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out” (Jn 10: ).
Francis emphasised that: “The Lord calls us by name, He calls us because He loves us. But, the Gospel then tells us, there are other voices, not to be followed: those of strangers, thieves and brigands who want to harm to the sheep”.
Voices of good and evil
“These different voices resonate within us”, said the Pope. “There is God’s voice, which speaks kindly to the conscience, and there is the tempting voice that leads to evil”.
Pope Francis underlined the importance of be able to distinguish “God’s inspiration from the insinuation of the evil one”.
He pointed out that “one can learn to discern these two voices. They speak two different languages, that is, they have opposite ways of knocking on the door of our hearts”.
“God’s voice never forces us: God proposes Himself, He does not impose Himself. Instead, the evil voice seduces, assails, forces: it arouses dazzling illusions, emotions that are tempting, but transient”, the Pope said.
He noted that, the voice of the enemy distracts us from the present and wants us to focus on fears of the future or sadness about the past.
The voice of true peace
The Pope continued by saying that “God’s voice, instead, never promises cheap joy. It invites us to go beyond our ego to find that true good, peace”.
In the end, emphasised Pope Francis, “God’s voice and the tempter’s speak in different ‘surroundings’. The enemy prefers darkness, falsehood, and gossip; the Lord loves sunlight, truth, and sincere transparency”.
The Pope invited the faithful to ask for the grace to recognise and follow the voice of the Good Shepherd “who brings us out of the enclosures of selfishness and leads us to the pastures of true freedom”.
– Santa Marta Mass: thanks for the witness of the 250 priests and doctors killed in Italy by COVID-19
Finally, at Mass earlier Sunday Pope Francis prayed in a special way for doctors and priests. citing the numbers of those who have died in Italy: over 100 priests and approximately 154 doctors.
“May the example of these shepherds, priests and doctors, help us take care of the holy, faithful People of God”, the Pope prayed.
Pope Francis then reflected on the image of the Good Shepherd presented in the reading from the First Letter of Peter (2:20-25) and the Gospel of John (10:1-10).
Jesus is the Shepherd
St. Peter describes Jesus as a shepherd, the one who came to save His straying sheep.
By bearing the sins of the sheep, Jesus freed us from sin. Due to Jesus’s death, we have returned to our Shepherd, the “guardian of our souls” (1 Pt 2:25).
St. John describes Jesus not only as the Shepherd but also as the “door through which the flock enters”, Pope Francis continued.
The sheep know the Shepherd
Unfortunately, just as Jesus said in the Gospel, many “fake shepherds” have entered to rob and exploit the Lord’s flock.
“They are not interested in the flock”, the Pope explained. Their interests have been climbing the ladder, politics or money. But the flock always recognises who the good shepherds are and who are the robbers, Pope Francis continued.
A good shepherd is distinguished by his flock. A flock flourishes because the shepherd listens, guides and cares for the sheep, Pope Francis noted.
The sheep entrust themselves only to those shepherds who are similar to Jesus, the Good Shepherd.
In this respect, the flock never errs, he said. Only those shepherds who are “like Jesus elicit confidence in their flock. Jesus’s style must be the pastor’s style. There is no other”.
That style was spelled out by St. Peter.
Jesus “suffered” for the sheep so we could “follow in His footsteps”. He never returned insult for injury. That is “meekness”, the Pope said.
Meekness is “one of the signs of a good shepherd”. If a pastor is not meek, he is hiding something, for “meekness makes oneself seen as he or she is, without defenses”.
A good shepherd tenderly draws near each sheep and knows each one’s name. “He takes care of each one as if it were the only one”, Pope Francis continued.
In fact, if at the end of the day, the shepherd realiSes that one sheep has not returned, he will go out in search of it notwithstanding how tired he is.
“This is a good shepherd”, the Pope said. “This is Jesus”.
An Easter idea
Pope Francis called the image of the shepherd, the flock and the sheep an “Easter idea”. He recalled that an Easter hymn calls the newly baptised “newborn lambs”. This is the “Church Jesus wants”, Pope Francis said. “Jesus takes care of this Church”.
Therefore, “this Sunday is a beautiful Sunday”, the Pope concluded his homily.
“It is a Sunday of peace, tenderness, meekness because our Shepherd takes care of us. ‘The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want'”.