Jesus the icon of the meek and compassionate pastor: Pope Francis at Mass

Jesus who drew near to people as he walked the streets of his world and as he gave his life on the cross Pope Francis’ homily during Mass on Tuesday at Casa Santa Marta.

Pope Francis reflected on the Gospel of the day (Luke 7:11-17) which recounts the raising of the son of the widow of Nain. He presented Jesus, the icon of the shepherd, whose authority came from his compassion expressed in meekness, tenderness, and closeness to the people. The Pope encouraged pastors to imitate Jesus in being near to people, not near to the powerful or ideologues whom, he says, “poison souls”.

The source of Jesus’ authority

What gave Jesus authority, Pope Francis explained, was that “he spent most of his time on the road”, touching, embracing, listening and looking at the people in the eye. “He was near them”, the Pope said. “this is what gave him authority”.

Jesus was meek

Jesus taught the same thing that many others taught, the Pope continued. It was how he taught that was different. Jesus “was meek, and did not cry out. He did not punish the people”. He never trumpeted the fact that he was the Messiah or a Prophet. “In the Gospel, when Jesus was not with people, he was with the Father praying”, Pope Francis said. His meekness toward the Father was expressed when he “visited the house of his Father which had become a shopping mall….” He was angry and threw everyone out, the Pope said. “He did this because he loved the Father, because he was humble before the Father”.

Jesus felt tender compassion

Jesus was overcome with compassion for the widow. Jesus “thought with his heart”, which was not separated from his head, Pope Francis said. Then Jesus tenderly touches her and speaks to her, “Do not weep”. “This is the icon of the pastor”. The pastor “needs to have the power and authority that Jesus had, that humility, that meekness, that nearness, the capacity to be compassionate and tender”, the Pope said.

Silence and prayer: the last words

The Pope brought up that it was also the people who yelled “crucify him”. Jesus then compassionately remained silent because “the people were deceived by the powerful”, Pope Francis explained. His response was silence and prayer. Here the shepherd chooses silence when the “Great Accuser” accuses him “through so many people”. Jesus “suffers, offers his life, and prays”, Pope Francis said.

That prayer carried him even to the Cross, with strength; even there he had the capacity of drawing near to and healing the soul of the repentant thief.

Pope Francis sends greetings to the Jewish community of Rome on the occasion of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot, which are all celebrated in September.

“I am pleased to extend my sincere best wishes to you and to the Jewish Community of Rome”, Pope Francis said in a letter addressed to Rome’s Chief Rabbi, Riccardo Shemuel Di Segni.

The occasion for the Pope’s greeting is three-fold: Rosh Hashanah celebrated from September 9-11, Yom Kippur celebrated on September 18 and 19, and Sukkot which begins on September 23 and ends on September 30.

The Pope writes that he hopes that these festivities might revive “the memory of the benefits received from the Most High. He also extended his thought to all “the Jewish communities in the world” that they might find in these feasts “the source of further graces and spiritual consolation”.

“May the Most High bless us,” the Pope continued, “with the gift of peace, inspiring us toward greater diligence to promote it untiringly”.

Pope Francis’ final thought expresses his prayer that the Lord’s “infinite goodness, might strengthen our bonds of friendship everywhere as well as the desire to foster a constant dialogue for the good of all”.

He signed off with “Shalom Alechem"—the classic Hebrew greeting meaning “Peace be upon you”.

Pope to Armenian monks: continue to illuminate the path to unity

A letter from Pope Francis was read at the conclusion of celebrations marking 300 years from the foundation of the Armenian Mekhitarist Congregation in its Monastery in Venice.
By Linda Bordoni

Pope Francis on Sunday praised the Armenian Mekhitarist Congregation for their tradition of theological humanism and prophetic ecumenical openness and urged them to continue to provide precious witness.

Mekhitarist Congregation

The Congregation of Benedictine monks is widely recognized for its contribution to the renaissance of Armenian philology, literature, and culture early in the 19th century and for the publication of old Armenian Christian manuscripts, a tradition that Pope Francis described as a “beneficial gift for the ecumenical journey, which increasingly reveals itself as a sign of the times” in our effort to meet the Lord’s request to his disciples “to be one”.

In a letter addressed to Archbishop Boghos Levon Zekiyan, apostolic administrator of the Armenian Mekhitarist Congregation, the Pope said the congregation “is called to preserve and deepen its charism for the good of all Armenian people."

Francis’ message was read in the presence of Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches during celebrations of the Divine Liturgy on the Island of San Lazzaro in Venice.

300th anniversary

The ceremony took place on Sunday evening to the mark the third centenary of the foundation of the Armenian Mekhitarist Congregation.

He said that together with the Mekhitarist Monastery of Vienna, the island of San Lazzaro where the Congregation is based, has become its beating heart.

“Despite a general reduction in numbers, each monk is called, there and everywhere, to keep his horizons open and wide and the bond of communion strong” he said.

The Mekhitarist identity, the Pope continued, consists above all in being entirely consecrated to God.

Strength in the face of current trials

“Your vocation, he said in conclusion to the monks, cannot be realized without real communion with your brother monks and without a total and joyful respect for your vows of poverty, chastity and obedience” which are an evangelical source of true renewal and strength in the face of the trials we face today.