(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis says a good priest knows how to empathize and get involved in the life of his flock. He said God pardons us like a father and not like an official in a law court. The Pope’s words came during his homily at Mass on Friday (30th October) at the Santa Marta residence that was given in Spanish.
The focus of Pope Francis’s homily was God’s compassion for each one of us and for the whole of humanity and how He sent His Son to “heal, regenerate and renew” the human race.
“It’s interesting that in the parable that we all know of the Prodigal Son, it’s said that when the father – who’s the figure of a forgiving God – sees his son arriving he feels compassion. God’s compassion isn’t about feeling pity: it’s nothing at all to do with that.”
“I can feel pity,” he explained, “for a dog that is dying,” but God’s compassion is different, it means “empathizing with another person’s problem, empathizing with that person’s situation.”
“Jesus healed people but he is not a healer. No! He healed people as a sign, as a sign of God’s compassion, to save that person, to bring back the lost sheep to the fold, the money that went missing from the woman’s purse. God has compassion. God loves us like a Father. He does this for each one of us. And when God forgives, he forgives like a Father and not like an official in the law court who reads out the verdict saying: ‘Acquitted for lack of evidence.’ He forgives us from within his heart. He forgives because he loved that person.”
Jesus, continued the Pope, was sent to bring the good news, “to free those who are oppressed” and “to enter the heart of each one of us, to free us from our sins and evil.”
“This is what a priest does: he feels empathy towards others and becomes involved in the life of people because he is a priest, like Jesus is a priest. How many times – and then we must go to confession – do we criticize those priests who are not interested in what is happening to those in their congregation, who don’t care about them. He is not a good priest! A good priest is one who empathizes.”
Pope Francis said a good priest is somebody who gets involved in all human problems. He concluded his homily by paying tribute to Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, who was present at the Mass, to celebrate his 60 years of priesthood. He praised the Cardinal’s work on behalf of the Church when he headed the Dicastery for Health Workers and said let us give thanks to God for these 60 years and for God’s compassion.