Vatican City, 15 June 2015 (VIS) – Today the homily in Spanish pronounced by the Pope last Friday in the Basilica of St. John Lateran during the Third Worldwide Priests' Retreat, organised by the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services (ICCRS) and the Catholic Fraternity, dedicated to the theme “Called to sanctity for the new evangelisation” based on the apostolic exhortation “Evangelii gaudium”. Before the Eucharistic celebration, the Holy Father reflected with those present on the theme “Transformed by love and for love”, and answered five questions from attendees. The following is an extract from the homily, which focused on God's tenderness.
“How good it is to listen to God Who teaches me to progress, the Almighty Who stoops down to me and teaches me to walk. … And God's closeness is this tenderness: He taught me to walk, and without Him I would not know how to walk in the Spirit.
“How often I think that we are afraid of God's tenderness, and since we are afraid of God's tenderness, we do not allow ourselves to experience Him and as a result are at times hard, harsh and punishing; we are pastors without tenderness. What does Jesus tell us in Luke Chapter 15, about that pastor who noticed that he had only ninety-nine sheep and that one was missing? He locked them up safely and went looking for the other one, which was entangled in thorns. He did not hit or reprimand her; he took her in his arms, put her on his shoulders, took her home and healed her. Do you do likewise with your parishioners, when you notice that one is missing from the flock, or are we accustomed to being a Church with one sheep in the flock and ninety-nine lost on the mountain?
“Today I ask you during this retreat to be pastors with God's tenderness, to leave the whip in the sacristy and to be tender pastors, even with those who cause you the most problems. It is a grace, it is a divine grace. We do not believe in an ethereal God – we believe in a God made flesh, with a heart, and this heart says to us today, 'they come to me if they are tired, overwhelmed, and I soothe them; treat my little ones with tenderness, with the same tenderness with which I treat them”. The heart of Christ tells us this today, and it is what I ask of you and of myself in this Mass today”.
During the Eucharistic celebration the Pope entrusted the missionary mandate to the priests.