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Pope at Santa Marta: The Ordained Ministry Is a Gift, “Not a Work Pact”

Warns Priests Against Losing Jesus’ ‘Look’, Against Losing the Heart of the Ministry

Pope Francis reminded of the importance of contemplating “the ministry as a gift and not as a function.

According to Vatican News, he did so in this morning’s Mass, celebrated in his residence Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican.

Cardinal Edoardo Menichelli, Archbishop Emeritus of Ancona, on the threshold of his 80th birthday, and a number of priests, celebrating the 25th anniversary of their ordination, were present.

Following Saint Paul’s advice to Timothy, “do not neglect the gift that is in you,” the Holy Father invited those gathered to reflect on the First Letter of Saint Paul to the young disciple, proposed by the liturgy. He focused, precisely, on the word “gift,” the ministry being a gift that must be contemplated.

“We do what we can,” with good will, intelligence, “even with being clever,” said the Pontiff, but always to protect this gift.

The Ordained Ministry is a gift of the Lord, “not a work pact,” warned the Pontiff. “I must do,’ the doing is on the second plane; I must receive the gift and protect it as a gift and everything flows from there, in the contemplation of the gift.”

“When we forget this, we appropriate the gift and transform it into a function, we lose the heart of the ministry, we lose Jesus’ look, who has looked at all of us and said to us: ‘Follow Me,’ we lose the gratuitousness.”

In this context, the Holy Father explained that when this contemplation of the gift is lacking, of the ministry as gift, “all those deviations arise that we know, from the ugliest, which are terrible, to the most daily, which makes us center our ministry on ourselves and not on our gratitude for the gift and in love to Him who has given us the gift, the gift of the ministry.”

Pope Francis concluded his homily, praying to the Lord “to help us protect the gift, to see our ministry above all as gift and then as service,” in order not to ruin it, and “not to become enterprising ministers.”

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