(Vatican Radio) “Bother your pastors, disturb your pastors, all of us pastors, so
that we will give you the milk of grace, of doctrine, and of guidance.” Departing
from his prepared remarks, Pope Francis on Sunday called on the faithful knock at
the doors of their pastors “and on their hearts,” saying it would help Bishops and
priests be good pastors.
The Holy Father made his remarks to the pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter’s Square for the weekly Regina Caeli prayer. His remarks focused on the image of Jesus the Good Shepherd, taken from the day’s Gospel reading. Many people are proposed to us as shepherds or pastors for our daily lives, he said. “But only the risen Christ is the true Shepherd, who gives us life in abundance.” Jesus not only guides us, but accompanies us on our journey “He walks with us.” Pope Francis called on us to “listen with open minds and hearts to His Word, in order to feed our faith, illuminate our consciences” and allow us “to follow the teachings of the Gospel.”
On Good Shepherd Sunday, the Pope said, we pray for all the pastors in the Church, especially Bishops and priests. He sent special greetings to the thirteen men he had ordained to the priesthood earlier in the day, and prayed that the Lord would help all pastors “to be wise and enlightened guides for the people of God entrusted” to them.
And he asked, too, for the help of the faithful. Taking an example from the works of St Caesarius of Arles (an early Church father), he talked about how calfs will nudge their mothers with their noses so the mother’s will give them milk. “A beautiful image,” he said. And that, he said, is how the people of God should be with their pastors, calling on them, disturbing them, even to the point of being troublesome or burdensome.
Pastors, on the other hand, should be imitators of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Every pastor, he said, quoting the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, “will sometimes go before his people, pointing the way and keeping their hope vibrant; the pastor should go ahead at times. At other times, he will simply be in their midst with his unassuming and merciful presence. At yet other times, he will have to walk after them, helping those who lag behind.” He expressed his wish that all pastors would follow that model… but then called on the faithful once again to “bother your pastors so that they will give us the guidance of doctrine and grace!”
Concluding his reflections, Pope Francis recalled the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, commemorated on Sunday. Every vocation, he said, “always requires an exodus from oneself in order to centre one’s life on Christ and on His Gospel.” But the call of the Lord to a religious vocation is always in danger of being stifled by other voices and other calls. And so, the Pope said, we should pray for young people that they might hear and respond to the voice of the Lord calling them.
Following the recitation of the Regina Caeli, Pope Francis greeted pilgrims from Italy and around the world. He concluded his greetings with a special thought for mothers: “Today I invite you to dedicate a good memory and a prayer for all mothers,” he said, before leading the faithful in prayer “for our mothers and for all mothers.”
Listen to Christopher Wells' report:
Below, please find the full text of Pope Francis' remarks at the Regina Caeli on Sunday:
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good day!
The evangelist John, on this Fourth Sunday of Easter time, presents to us the image of Jesus the Good Shepherd. Contemplating this Gospel passage, we can understand the kind of relationship that Jesus had with his disciples: a relationship based on tenderness, love, mutual understanding, and the promise of an incomparable gift: “I came,” Jesus says, “so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (Jn 10:10). This relationship is the model both of relations between Christians and of human relations.
Many today, as in Jesus' time, are proposed as “shepherds” of our existence; but only the Risen Christ is the true Shepherd, who gives us life in abundance. I invite everyone to trust in the Lord to guide us. But He doesn’t just guide us, He accompanies us, He walks with us. Let us listen with open mind and heart to His Word, to feed our faith, to illuminate our conscience, and to follow the teachings of the Gospel.
This Sunday we pray for the Pastors of the Church, for all bishops, including the Bishop of Rome, and for all priests, for all; in particular we pray for the new priests of the Diocese of Rome, who I ordained a little while ago in St. Peter's Basilica. Greetings to these thirteen priests! May the Lord help us, us pastors, to be ever faithful to the Master and to be wise and enlightened guides of the people of God entrusted to us. And you, too, please, I ask you to help us. Help us to be good pastors. Once I read a beautiful thing about how the people of God help the Bishops and the priests to be good pastors. It is a writing of St Caesarius of Arles, a father of the first ages of the Church. And he explained how the people of God should help the pastor, and he gave this example: when the calf is hungry, it goes to the cow, to the mother, and takes the milk. But the cow does not give it right away: it seems that she keeps it for herself. And what does the calf do? It knocks with its nose against the cow’s udder, so that the milk comes. It’s a beautiful image! That, the saint says, is how you should be with the pastors: knocking always at their doors, at their hearts, so that they will give you the milk of doctrine, the milk of grace, the milk of guidance. And I ask you, please, bother [it: importunare = importune] the pastors, disturb the pastors, all of us pastors, so that we will give you the milk of grace, of doctrine, and of guidance. Bother us! Think of that beautiful image of the calf, how he bothers the mother so that she will give him to something to eat. In imitation of Jesus, every pastor “will sometimes go before his people, pointing the way and keeping their hope vibrant; the pastor should go ahead at times. At other times, he will simply be in their midst with his unassuming and merciful presence. At yet other times, he will have to walk after them, helping those who lag behind” (Apost. Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, 31). Would that all Pastors would be like that! But you, bother the pastors so that they will give us the guidance of doctrine and grace!
This Sunday marks World Day of Prayer for Vocations. In this year's message I stated that “every vocation… always requires an exodus from oneself in order to centre one’s life on Christ and on His Gospel” (n. 2). For this reason, the call to follow Jesus is both exciting and challenging. So one must realize it is always necessary to enter into a profound friendship with the Lord to be able live in Him and for Him.
We pray that in this time, so many young people might hear the voice of the Lord, which is always in danger of being suffocated by so many other voices. Let us pray for the young people – perhaps here in the Piazza there is someone who has heard this voice of the Lord that is calling him to the priesthood. Let us pray for him if he is here, and for all the young people that are like that.
Greetings after the Regina Caeli:
I greet all of you, families, parish groups, associations, and individual believers from Italy and from other countries, in particular those from the Diocese of Campo Grande e Dourados (Brazil), from New York, from Las Palmas (Canary Islands), as well as the students from Miranda Do Corvo in Portugal, and the children of the Cuore del Maria school in the Alta Cordoba district of Argentina.
I greet the Neocatechumenal communities on this Sunday of Easter bring the proclamation of the risen Jesus in 100 piazzas of Rome and in many cities around the world. May the Lord give you the joy of the Gospel! And go ahead, you who are good!
A special blessing for the children and young people who have received or are about to receive First Holy Communion and Confirmation. And also for the family and friends of the new priests of the diocese of Rome, who I ordained this morning.
I greet the State Forestry Corps, which organizes the National Day of Nature Reserves; the members of the “Giovane Montagna,” who came to Rome along the Via Francigena; the Italian Network of Care Support in Oncology, encouraging their work with the patient and families; the civil authorities of Viggiù-Clive; and the motorcyclists from San Marino and Abruzzo.
And today I invite you to dedicate a good memory and a prayer for all mothers. We greet the mothers. Entrusting them to the Madonna of Jesus, for our mothers and for all mothers, we pray to the Madonna:
[The Pope leads the people in praying the Ave Maria.]
A big greeting for the mothers: a big greeting!
Happy Sunday everyone! Have a good lunch, and arrivederci!