April 23, 2024 // National

Pope: Jesus Gave His Life Out of Love for All

VATICAN CITY – When Jesus called Himself the “good shepherd,” He was telling people not only that He was their guide but that they were important to Him and “that He thinks of each of us as the love of His life,” Pope Francis said.

“Consider this: For Christ, I am important. He thinks of me; I am irreplaceable, worth the infinite price of His life,” which He laid down for the salvation of all, the pope said on Sunday, April 21, before reciting the Regina Coeli prayer with visitors in St. Peter’s Square.

Jesus was not just saying something nice, the pope said. Each believer should recognize that “He truly gave His life for me; He died and rose again for me. Why? Because He loves me, and He finds in me a beauty that I often do not see myself.”

Many people think of themselves as inadequate or undeserving of love, Pope Francis said. Or they believe their value comes from what they have or are able to do. In the day’s Gospel reading, John 10:11-18, “Jesus tells us that we are always infinitely worthy in His eyes,” the pope said.

A teacher blows a kiss to Pope Francis at the end of an audience with about 6,000 Italian schoolchildren involved in the National Network of Schools of Peace, a civic education program, in the Paul VI Audience Hall at the Vatican April 19, 2024. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

To understand and experience the truth of that statement, Pope Francis said, “the first thing to do is to place ourselves in His presence, allowing ourselves to be welcomed and lifted up by the loving arms of our good shepherd.”

The pope asked people in the square to consider if they find or make the time each day “to embrace this assurance that gives value to my life” and “for a moment of prayer, of adoration, of praise, to be in the presence of Christ and to let myself be caressed by Him.”

That time in prayer, he said, will remind a person that “He gave His life for you, for me, for all of us. And that, for Him, we are all important, each and every one of us.”

After praying the Regina Coeli, Pope Francis told the crowd that he continues to follow the tensions in Israel, Palestine, and throughout the Middle East “with concern and also with grief.”

“I renew my appeal not to give in to the logic of vengeance and war. May the paths of dialogue and diplomacy, which can do so much, prevail,” he said. “I pray every day for peace in Palestine and Israel, and I hope that these two peoples may stop suffering soon.”

He also asked Catholics to continue to pray for peace in Ukraine and for the people who are suffering because of the war.

Pope Tells Seminarians to Integrate Spiritual, Intellectual Lives

Candidates to the priesthood must integrate their spiritual, intellectual, and community lives so they become pastors who can respond to the needs of their communities, Pope Francis told a group of seminarians from the Archdiocese of Seville, Spain, during a meeting at the Vatican on Saturday, April 20.

“This path of configuring (oneself) to Jesus the good shepherd must be done by taking care of four aspects: spiritual life, study, community life, and apostolic activity,” Pope Francis told the 36 visiting seminarians.

The pope told them that integrating those four areas “is necessary, I would say urgent, to become priests capable of responding to the vocation (you have) received in total self-giving to God and to your brothers and sisters, especially those who most suffer.”

COPE, the radio station owned by the Spanish bishops’ conference, reported that the pope spent time directly responding to questions posed by the seminarians during their audience.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Archbishop José Ángel Saiz Meneses of Seville said the pope encouraged the seminarians to hold onto “the joy that should reign in our priestly lives” and to “avoid the danger of spiritual worldliness, which is introduced through very correct ways but the base of which is sterile.”

Pope Tells Children a Better World Can’t Be Built ‘Lying on the Couch’

Peace can spread and grow from “small seeds” like including someone who is left out of an activity, showing concern for someone who is struggling, picking up some litter, and praying for God’s help, Pope Francis told Italian schoolchildren on Friday, April 19, at the Vatican’s Paul VI Audience Hall.

“At a time still marked by war, I ask you to be artisans of peace,” the pope told some 6,000 Italian schoolchildren involved in the National Network of Schools of Peace, a civic education program designed to teach the children to care for themselves, their friends, their communities, the world, and the environment.

During the gathering, Pope Francis led the children in a moment of silent prayer for their peers in Ukraine and in Gaza.

“In a society still prisoner of a throwaway culture,” he told them, “I ask you to be protagonists of inclusion; in a world torn by global crises, I ask you to be builders of the future, so that our common home may become a place of fraternity.”

The pope drew the children’s attention to the U.N. Summit of the Future, which is scheduled for September 22-23 in New York to draft a “Pact for the Future,” focused on promoting international cooperation and partnerships to ensure “a world that is safer, more peaceful, more just, more equal, more inclusive, more sustainable, and more prosperous.”

While government leaders and experts in a variety of fields obviously must get involved to make that hope a reality, the pope said, the pact will remain “just words on a page” without a commitment by all people of goodwill to take concrete steps aimed at changing harmful behavior and building communities and societies where everyone feels they are cared for and belong.

“This is a dream that requires being awake and not asleep,” he told the young people. The world can change for the better only when people are out in the world, “not lying on the couch,” using media to create connections and not just waste time, “and then – listen carefully – this kind of dream is realized by praying, that is, together with God, not by our strength alone.”

“Peace, in fact, is not only a silence of weapons and absence of war,” Pope Francis said. “It is a climate of benevolence, trust, and love that can mature in a society based on caring relationships, in which individualism, distraction, and indifference give way to the ability to pay attention to others, to listen to their needs, to heal their wounds, to be instruments of compassion and healing.”

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