Vatican City, 21 April 2013 (VIS) – At the end of the Mass celebrated in the Vatican Basilica for the ordination of ten deacons, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to pray the Regina Coeli with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.
The Pope explained that the fourth Sunday of Easter is characterized by the Gospel of the Good Shepherd, citing the four verses that contain “Jesus' entire message”. “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one” (Jn 10:27-30).
“Jesus wants to establish a relationship with his friends that reflects the one he has with the Father: a relationship of mutual belonging in complete confidence, in intimate communion.” To express this it is necessary to use the image of the sheep who recognize the voice of the shepherd and follow him. “The mystery of the voice is suggestive. Already at our mother's breast we learn to recognize her voice, and that of our father. By someone's tone of voice we can perceive love or contempt, affection or coldness. Jesus' voice is unique! If we learn to distinguish it, He guides us on the path of life, a path that even overcomes the abyss of death.”
However, referring to his sheep, Jesus also says: “My Father, who has given them to me. This is very important. It is a profound mystery that is not easy to understand. If I feel attracted to Jesus, if his voice warms my heart, it is thanks to God the Father who has put this desire for love, for truth, for life, for beauty within me. And Jesus is all this completely. This helps us to understand the mystery of vocation, especially of the call to a special consecration.”
“Today there are many young persons in the piazza,” the pontiff observed. “I want to ask you, has there been a time when you have heard the Lord's voice, who through a desire, a restlessness, has invited you to follow him more closely? … Youth needs to put its high ideals into action. Have you thought of this? … Ask Jesus what He wants of you and be courageous! … Behind and before each vocation to the priesthood or the consecrated life there is always someone's strong and intense prayer: a grandmother, a grandfather,a mother, a father, a community. This is why Jesus said 'ask the master of the harvest—that is, God the Father—to send out labourers for his harvest'. Vocations are born in prayer and from prayer. Only in prayer can they persevere and bear fruit. I would like to emphasize that today is the 'World Day of Prayer for Vocations'. Let us pray in particular for the new priests of the Diocese of Rome who I had the joy or ordaining this morning. … And let us call upon the intercession of Mary, who is the Woman of the 'Yes'. She said 'Yes' her entire life. She learned to recognize Jesus' voice from when she carried him in her womb. May Mary, our Mother, help us to always know better Jesus' voice and to follow it, to walk in the path of life.”