Speaking to the faithful today before and after the recitation of the Regina Coeli, the Pope reminded those gathered that this fourth Sunday of Easter is called "Good Shepherd Sunday," which annually invites us to reflect on this role of Jesus, who 'laid down His life for His flock.'
Today also marks the 52nd World Day of Prayer for the Vocations, for which the Holy Father, during Mass this morning in St. Peter's Basilica, ordained new priests for the Diocese of Rome.
"It becomes quite clear what it means that Jesus is 'the Good Shepherd,'" Francis stressed, saying, "He gives life, He offered His life as a sacrifice for all of us: for you, for you, for you, for me, for everyone! And this is the Good Shepherd!"
"Christ is the true shepherd," the Pope said. "In the figure of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, we contemplate God's providence, His paternal concern for each of us."
"He does not leave us alone!"
"Faced with this love of God," the Holy Father said, "we experience great joy and we are open to gratitude for what we have received for free."
However, the Pontiff stated, it is not enough to contemplate and give thanks, but one must follow the Good Shepherd.
"In particular, those who have the mission as leaders in the Church - priests, bishops, popes - are called not to take on the mentality of 'manager,' but that of the servant, in imitation of Jesus who, stripping himself, has saved us with His mercy."
He said the newly ordained priests are also called to this style of pastoral life.
After reciting the Regina Coeli, the Holy Father, who just yesterday issued a telegram expressing his condolences for the earthquake in Nepal which has claimed nearly 2,000 lives, said, "I want to assure my closeness to people affected by a strong earthquake in Nepal and neighboring countries," and called on the faithful to join him in saying a Hail Mary.
Also greeting the numerous pilgrims gathered in the square, Francis gave a special greeting to any Poles present: "I greet with affection all the pilgrims from Rome, Italy and from various countries, especially those coming in large numbers from Poland to mark the first anniversary of the canonization of John Paul II," he said.
"Beloved, always resound in your hearts his call: 'Open the doors to Christ!' that he said in the strong and holy voice he had. May the Lord bless you and your families and Madonna protect you."
The Pontiff concluded, wishing all the faithful a good Sunday and lunch and asking them to prayer for him.
On ZENIT’s Web page:
Article on Pope Sending Condolences Following Nepal Earthquake: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-sends-telegram-following-nepal-earthquake-tragedy