Good Shepherd Sunday

Priests must ‘abide in Christ’ through prayer, Pope teaches

.- On the fourth Sunday of Easter, Pope Benedict celebrated Mass at the Vatican Basilica and conferred priestly ordination on 19 deacons for the Diocese of Rome.  In his homily, the Holy Father cautioned of a “worldly” mentality and emphasized the importance of prayer and imitating Christ.

Speaking to the congregation yesterday, on a day known as “Good Shepherd Sunday, Benedict XVI explained how Jesus’ disciples experienced the same “joy as Jesus” in knowing God the Father, but they also shared in Christ’s pain in seeing that the love of God is not returned by the world.

Quoting from the First Letter of John - "the reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him" - the Holy Father said that the world does not understand Christians partly because “it does not, in fact, know God, and partly because it does not want to know him.”

The mentality of the “world,” he warned, can also infect the Church, her members and even her ordained ministers.  This way of thinking “actually does contaminate the Church, and hence requires constant vigilance and purification,” the Pope said.

Benedict XVI also stressed that Jesus gave his life for everyone, but in a special way for priests—“those whom the Father gave to Him to be consecrated in the truth.” In other words, those who “could speak and act in His name, represent Him, extend His salvific actions by breaking the bread of life and remitting sins," the Pope explained.

As priests, said the Holy Father, "we are called to 'abide' in Christ - as St. John the Evangelist liked to say - and this is achieved especially through prayer. Our ministry is completely dependent on such 'abiding,' which is the same as prayer and from which it draws its effectiveness."

Among a priest's various forms of prayer Benedict XVI mentioned "first and foremost daily Mass. The celebration of the Eucharist is the greatest and most exalted form of prayer and is the center and source from which the other forms receive their 'lifeblood," he said. He also listed "the Liturgy of the Hours, Eucharistic adoration, 'lectio divina,' the Holy Rosary and meditation."

"A priest who prays much and prays well becomes ever more united to Christ, the Good Shepherd and Servant of His brothers and sisters," said the Pope, wrapping up his homily.

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