Priests must not preach “Christianity 'a la carte'” and should be willing to approach even uncomfortable aspects of the Gospel, Pope Benedict said in a meeting with priests this week.
In a meeting with priests and religious from the Diocese of Rome on March 10, the Pope led a Scripture meditation as the “pastor of the pastors.”
He based the meditation - called a “lectio divina” (sacred reading) - on a chapter from the Acts of the Apostles in which St. Paul leaves the faithful in Ephesus with instructions on how to continue preaching the Gospel after his departure.
Paul's advice to be humble and vigilant in preaching the faith, to make themselves completely available in service to Christ and the Church, and prayerful as they protect their “flocks” are all relevant characteristics of priests nearly 2,000 years later, said the Pope.
He implored priests to show “full-time” fidelity to their vocation as priests, “being with Christ and being ambassadors of Christ.”
The Pope also called on priests today not to shrink from proclaiming “the entire plan of God.”
“This is important,” said the Pope. “The Apostle does not preach Christianity 'a la carte,' according to his own tastes, he does not preach a Gospel according to his own preferred theological ideas; he does not take away from the commitment to announce the entire will of God, even when uncomfortable, nor the themes he may least like personally.
“It is our mission to announce all the will of God, in its totality and ultimate simplicity. But the fact that we must instruct and preach is important - as St. Paul says - and really proposes the entire will of God.”
In a world where people are curious to know everything, “so much more should we be curious to know the will of God,” said Pope Benedict.
“What thing could be more interesting, more important, more essential for us than to know what God wants, to know the will of God, the face of God?”
He called on priests and religious to respond to this curiosity and awaken it in others, assisting them in “knowing truly all the will of God and knowing then how we can and must live, which is the path of our lives.”