The final reflections for this year’s Spiritual Exercises focused on the need for pastors to be intercessors for sinners, and to recognize the presence of God in their vocations, reported Vatican News.
On Thursday afternoon, Jesuit Father Pietro Bovati, who guided the retreat, spoke on the theme of intercession, of helping to reconcile those who need forgiveness and reconciliation with God. This service of mercy, especially in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, is “the most spiritual ministry”, he said, because it reaches people in their inmost being.
Father Bovati said that the book of Exodus teaches us that we must come to God in prayer to recognize our sinfulness. The intercessor helps us to see a change from God’s anger to His mercy and tenderness, leading to a change in our own hearts.
This tender mercy of God can be seen in the parable of the lost sheep, and in the Gospel account of Peter’s question about how often we must forgive. Peter himself, who denied Jesus and wept over his sin, “becomes an emblem of the Church and of every Christian who, being forgiven, becomes an artisan of forgiveness”.
The exercises concluded on Friday morning with a meditation on the Presence of God. Jesus is present, Fr Bovati said, when His disciples obey His mandate “to bring the radiance of grace into the world”.
Concluding his reflection on the book of Exodus, Fr Bovati dwelt on how Moses asked the Lord to help him lead the People of God. Moses, trusting in God’s presence, becomes a model for the people. Father Bovati said that it is God Himself who makes it possible for men and women to do the work God asks of them.
He noted that Moses asked not for glory or rewards for himself, but only that he might be an instrument of God’s will. He has the humility to recognize the need for collaborators, showing that God alone is the unique principle of salvation.
Finally, turning to the Gospel account of Jesus’ encounter with the apostles after the Resurrection, Fr Bovati said that the Lord called them to return to Galilee, the birthplace of their vocation, but also a borderland – recalling the Lord’s commission to “make disciples of all nations”.
It is Jesus who makes them shepherds, sending them forth to continue His mission of love and grace.