VATICAN CITY, MAY 2, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the homily John Paul II delivered at a Mass today in St. Peter’s Basilica, during which he ordained 26 new priests of the Diocese of Rome.
* * *
1. The Good Shepherd is risen, who gave his life for his sheep … Alleluia” (Communion Antiphon).
Today the liturgy invites us to fix our gaze on Christ, the Good Shepherd. “Agnus redemit oves,” the Easter Sequence sings: “The Lamb has redeemed his flock.” The only begotten Son of the Father, the Good Shepherd of humanity, who died on the cross rose on the third day.
This is the Good News that the Apostles brought to all people, beginning in Jerusalem, animated by the power of the Holy Spirit (see Luke 24:47-49). This is the joyful announcement that continues to resound at the beginning of the third millennium. From the look full of compassion of Christ, the risen Good Shepherd, comes to the Church the gift and mystery of the vocation to the pastoral ministry.
2. Dear deacons, who in a short while will be ordained priests, from this same gift of love is born your call to the priesthood. I welcome you with affection and greet you individually. I greet the cardinal vicar, monsignor the deputy director, the members of the diocesan episcopal council. I greet the rectors and superiors of the Pontifical Major Roman Seminary, of the diocesan seminary “Redemptoris Mater,” of the Almo Collegio Capranica, and of the Oblates Sons of Our Lady of Divine Love, who were responsible for your formation.
I greet Cardinal Andrzej Maria Deskur and the formators of the “Priestly Fraternity of the Sons of the Cross,” as I also greet and thank the superiors and formators of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions.
I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to your families, to the priests who have looked after the formation and growth of your faith and to all those who, together with your parish communities and ecclesial institutions 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.
3. You are becoming priests at a time when, also here in Rome, strong cultural tendencies seem to want to make one forget God, especially among young people and families. But do not be afraid: God will always be with you! With his help you will be able to walk on the ways that lead to the heart of every man and to proclaim to him that the Good Shepherd has given his life for him and wishes him to participate in his mystery of love and salvation.
To carry out this work, which is so necessary, Jesus must always be the center of your life and you must remain in intimate union with him through prayer, daily personal meditation, faithfulness to the Liturgy of the Hours and especially the daily devout celebration of the Eucharist. If you are full of God, you will be true apostles of the new evangelization, because no one can give what he does not have in his heart.
May Mary, the dear Mother of the Good Shepherd, toward whom I invite you to nourish always a filial devotion, accompany you and watch over you constantly. Amen.
[Translation by ZENIT]