Pope Francis met this morning with the Pontifical Representatives and Apostolic Nuncios today in the Vatican, reminding them of their role as Pastors, bearers of Christ to the world. The Holy Father began his address by thanking various representatives of the Holy See for their service to the Church and to the successor of Peter.
“You represent me in Churches spread throughout the world and with the Governments, but seeing so many of you today also gives me the sense of the catholicity of the Church, of its universality. I thank you wholeheartedly!” the Pope said.
In a lengthy address, the Pope reflected on the aspects of the service of the Papal Representatives, saying that his words came from deep within his heart. The Pope recognized the difficulty that the representatives and apostolic nuncios face in having to move every several years, describing it as “a nomadic life.” Pope Francis compared their lives to that of Abraham, who he described as “a man of faith on a journey.”
“God asks him to leave his country, his security, to go, trusting in a promise, which he does not see, but which he simply keeps in his heart like the hope which God offers him,” the Holy Father said. The Pope went on to say that mortification and living the nomadic lives is a life of great worth when “lived with an intensity of love.”
While acknowledging the graces that come from completing their ministry with love, Pope Francis also warned of the dangers of “spiritual worldliness” that would lead to “action for self-fulfillment and not for the glory of God.” The 76 year old Pontiff reflected on the words of Blessed John XXIII who, prior to serving as Pope, was a Papal Representative.
“[Blessed John XXIII] claimed to have increasingly understood that, for effectiveness of action, he had to continually prune the vineyard of his life from that which was merely useless foliage and go straight to the essentials, which is Christ and his Gospel, otherwise there was the risk of ridiculing a holy mission,” Pope Francis said.
“These are strong but true words: giving in to worldly spirit exposes us Pastors to ridicule, perhaps we may be applauded by some, but those same people who seem to approve of us, then criticize us behind our backs.”
The Holy Father also emphasized the importance of their ministry in selecting bishops, warning to choose men who are not ambitious and that “they are married to a Church without being in constant search of another. He also said that must also be able to watch over the flock entrusted to them, placing St. Joseph as a model.
“Let us think of the figure of St. Joseph, who watches over Mary and Jesus, of his care for the family that God entrusted to him, and the watchful gaze with which he guides it in avoiding dangers,” the Pope said.
“For this reason Pastors must know how to be ahead of the herd to point the way, in the midst of the flock to keep it united, behind the flock to prevent someone being left behind, so that the same flock, so to speak, has the sense of smell to find its way.”
Concluding his address, Pope Francis invited the papal representatives to reflect on their “important and valuable service” while calling them to be true Pastors who keep their gaze fixed on Christ.