ROME — Priests and bishops need to model themselves after Jesus, who never posted inconvenient office hours or shied away from people and their problems, Pope Francis said in a morning homily.
“Jesus throws himself into the midst of the people,” showing them tenderness, closeness and offering immediate healing — the very same things a minister of the church should be doing, the pope said in his homily Jan. 30 at morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
Reflecting on the day’s Gospel reading from St. Mark (5:21-43), Francis looked at how Jesus interacted with the large crowds that gathered around him and with the people who reached out to him for help.
“Jesus doesn’t open an office for spiritual guidance with a sign: ‘The prophet receives (the public) Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Admission costs this much or if you like, you can make a donation.’ No. Jesus doesn’t do this,” he said.
Jesus didn’t operate like a doctor’s office either, telling people to come a particular day to be healed, he added.
Jesus goes to the people and dives in, bolstered by a deep desire to be close and tender, he said.
“A pastor who doesn’t get close (to people) is missing something. Maybe he is a leader in his field, but he is not a pastor,” the pope said. “A pastor who is missing tenderness will be rigid, hitting his sheep.”
Francis asked people to pray for the church’s priests “so that the Lord may give them this grace of walking with the people, being available to the people with lots of tenderness, with so much closeness.”
“And when people find their shepherd,” he said, “they will feel that special thing that you only feel in God’s presence” — the awe and astonishment of “feeling the closeness and tenderness of God in the pastor.”