Pope’s Homily to New Priests on 52nd World Day of Prayer for Vocations

“Always keep in mind the example of the Good Shepherd, who came not to be served, but to serve”

Below is a translation of Pope Francis’ homily today, the fourth Sunday of Easter and the 52nd World Day of Pray for the Vocations’s Mass, at this morning’s Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica:

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Dear brothers,

These, our sons, were called the order of presbyter. We will do well to reflect a bit on that ministry to which they will be elevated in the Church. As you know, the Lord Jesus is the only
High Priest of the New Testament, but also in Him all the holy people of God were
constituted as priestly people. All of us! Nevertheless, among all his disciples, the Lord Jesus wants to choose a few in particular, for exercising the priesthood publicly in the Church, in the favor of all men, continuing His personal mission of master, priest and pastor.

In fact, for this is why He had been sent by the Father. And so, in turn, He sent in the world first the Apostles, and then the bishops and their successors, who finally were given as
collaborators, priests, who, together with them in the priestly ministry, are called to serve the
People of God.

They have reflected on this, on their vocation, and now they are going to receive the ordination of presbyters. And the bishop risks–risks!– and chooses them, just as the Father has risked for each of us.

They will indeed be configured to Christ, the Eternal High Priest, namely they will be consecrated as true priests of the New Testament, and as such, they’ll be united in the priesthood with their bishop. They will be preachers of the Gospel, Pastors of the People of God, and will preside over acts of worship, especially in celebrating the Lord’s sacrifice.

As for you, you are about to be promoted to the order of the priesthood, consider that in
exercising the ministry of the Holy Doctrine, you will share in the mission of Christ, the only
Master. Dispense to all the word of God, that you yourselves received with joy. Read and
meditate assiduously on the Word of the Lord to believe what you read, to teach what you have learned in faith, and to live what you have taught.

And this is the nourishment of the People of God; that your sermons are not boring; that
your own homilies reach people’s hearts because they come from your heart, because what you are saying is truly what you have in your heart. So give the Word of God, and thus your doctrine will be joy and support for the faithful of Christ; the scent of your life will be the testimony, because the example builds, but the words without example are empty words, and will never arrive at the heart and even do harm: They do no good! You will continue the sanctifying work of Christ. Through your ministry, the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful is made perfect–because joined to the sacrifice of Christ, through your hands, in the name of the whole Church–[and is] is offered, in a bloodless manner, on the altar in the celebration of the Holy Mysteries.

When you celebrate the Mass, therefore, acknowledge what you do. Do not do it in a hurry! Imitate that which you celebrate – not an artificial rite, an artificial ritual artificial – in order that, participating in the mystery of death and resurrection of the Lord, you bring the death of Christ in your members and so that you walk with Him in the newness of life.

In Baptism, join new faithful to the People of God. Do not ever refuse Baptism to anyone who asks! With the Sacrament of Penance, forgive sins in the name of Christ and the Church. And I, in the name of Jesus Christ, the Lord, and his Bride, the Holy Church, I ask you not to grow weary of being merciful. In the confessional, you are to going to forgive, not to condemn! Imitate the Father who never gets tired of forgiving. With holy oil, you will give relief to sick. Celebrating the sacred rites and raising at various times of day prayers of praise and supplication, you will make the voice of the People of God and of all humanity.

Aware of being chosen from among men and being favored among them to attend to the things of God, exercise in joy and sincere charity the priestly work of Christ, intent only on
pleasing God and not yourselves. It is a bad priest who lives to please himself, who does “the “Peacock!”

Finally, participating in the mission of Christ, the Head and Shepherd, in son-like communion with your bishop, strive to unite the faithful in one family – Be ministers of unity in the Church, in family – leading them to God the Father through Christ in the Holy Spirit. And always keep in mind the example of the Good Shepherd, who came not to be served but to serve; not to stay in his comfort, but to go out and seek and save what was lost.

[Original Text: Italian] [Translation by Deborah Castellano Lubov]

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