Pope Francis traces again the image of the good priest, and in this morning’s homily at Santa Marta, pronounced in Spanish, he has reiterated that a good priest knows “tenderness” and “gets involved in people’s lives. God – said the Holy Father – forgives us as a Father, not as an employee of the court. He has compassion for each one of us, he has compassion for humanity and has sent his Son to heal it, regenerate it, renew it. It is interesting – he has pointed out – that in the parable of the Prodigal Son, the one we are all familiar with, it says that when the father, that is God who forgives, sees his son, he feels compassion. God’s compassion does not feel pity: those two things have nothing to do one with another”.
You can feel piety for a dog that is dying, but God’s compassion is something else: “It consists in getting inside the problem, inside the situation of the other, with the heart of a Father. Jesus healed people – he said – but he is not a healer. No! He healed people as a sign of God’s compassion, in order to save them. God gives his Father’s heart to each one of us. And when God forgives, he forgives as a Father, not as an employee in a court who reads a sentence and says: Acquitted for lack of evidence”.
Jesus was sent to “to bring the glad news, to free those who feel oppressed. This – he said – is what a priest does: he feels tenderness, partakes in peoples’ lives because a priest is a priest as Jesus is a priest. How many times, and we have to go confess then, we criticize those priests who are not interested in what happens in their congregation, who do not care about it. No, he is not a good priest! A good priest gets involved in all human problems”.
Bergoglio has concluded his reflection dwelling on the service offered to the Church by cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, present at Mass, on the occasion of the celebration of his 60 years of priesthood. Francis has remembered with gratitude his commitment in the Congregation for the health-care workers, “in the service of the Church that lends itself to the sick. We give thanks to God for those 60 years of priesthood. There is a line from God’s compassion to our days and this is a gift the Lord makes to card. Barragan: be able to live this way for 60 years”.