On Wednesday, Pope Francis continued his teaching on apostolic zeal, urging everyone to do like the good shepherd and not view the lost sheep in the flock as an enemy.
Charlotta Smedes – Vatican City
In his continuing catechism on apostolic zeal, Pope Francis asked those gathered in Paul VI’s audience to teach him about the faith during the general audience to “fix their eyes on the model of unprecedented evangelization: Jesus.”
Pointing out that the Christmas Gospel defines Jesus as the “Word of God,” the Pope said that this is an essential aspect of Jesus, that is, always “external.”
The word exists to be conveyed and transmitted, the pope continued, and “Christ does not have words for life, but makes his life a word.”
Pope Francis pointed out that in the Gospels we see Jesus close to the Father, especially in his prayer.
“He makes all of his important decisions and choices after praying. Through prayer, Jesus announces his message.”
His service is always directed to other people. When Jesus spoke of his mission, he actually said that he did not come “to be served, but to serve and to give his life.”
The Good Shepherd
Pope Francis noted that Jesus is called the “Good Shepherd.”
The Pope noted that “being a pastor was not just a job – it required time and a lot of dedication. It was a way of life: twenty-four hours a day, living with the flock.”
Jesus gave his life for us and “by staying with Jesus we discover that his pastoral heart beats always for those who are confused, lost and far away”.
The Pope emphasized that “if we want to exercise our apostolic zeal, we must always think of the lost sheep.”
In The Lost Sheep “we discover that God does not forsake the sheep that leave the flock and go astray, but seeks them out.”
“Leaving the ninety-nine safe sheep and setting out for the lost, he does something risky and unreasonable, but according to his heart that misses the one who is left—not out of anger or resentment—but out of longing for the United States. Such is the zeal of God.”
opportunity to testify
Concluding his teaching, he asked the Pope: “Do we also feel this way?” He noted that those who left the flock in our lives can be considered enemies.
Therefore, he called them to “witness to them with joy that they have a father who loves them and never forgets them.”
The Pope affirmed: “We have the honor and the invitation to pass the word on to them. Because the Word, Jesus, asks it of us.”
Finally, the Pope prayed: “We ask for the grace of a pastoral heart, because without this love that suffers and takes risks, we risk putting ourselves out to pasture.”
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