By Deborah Castellano Lubov

It’s true the people of God tire their pastor, but he must still stay close to them…

According to Vatican News, Pope Francis stressed this today, April 24, during his private daily Mass at his residence Casa Santa Marta.

At the start of the Mass, while remembering all victims of Coronavirus, Francis prayed for students and teachers at this time.

“We pray today,” he said, “for teachers who have to work so hard to provide lessons via the internet and other digital ways, and we also pray for students who have to take exams in a way they are not used to. Let us accompany them with prayer.”

In his homily, the Holy Father commented on today’s passage from St. John’s Gospel about the loaves and the fishes (John 6:1-15), focusing specifically on where it says:“He said this only to put Philip to the test; He Himself knew exactly what He was going to do.”

The Jesuit Pope recalled how the Lord often tests us, and sees how we react when much is demanded of us. The Pope spoke of the demands put on pastors by their people.

“It’s true that the People of God tire the Pastor,” the Argentine Pontiff said, underscoring: “they tire him.”

When there is a good Pastor, Francis recognized, demands on him multiply “because people always go to a good Pastor for one reason or another.”

“Once, a great parish priest of a simple, humble neighbourhood of the diocese,” Francis remembered, “had the parsonage as a normal house and the people knocked on the door or knocked on the window, at all hours . . . and he once said to me: “But I would like to wall the door and the window so that they let me rest.”

“However,” the Pope continued, “he was aware he was a Pastor and should be with the people. And Jesus forms, He teaches the disciples, the Apostles this pastoral attitude, which is closeness to the People of God.”

Acknowledging how the people often exhaust their pastor, in asking for numerous concrete things, Francis stresses that regardless, the pastor must respond to these things.

The Holy Father also gave concrete advice to pastors, underscoring: “the power of the pastor is service. He has no other power. When you begin to make mistakes taking other powers your vocation is ruined.”

Pope Francis concluded, praying the Lord would speak to pastors of the Church, teaching them to be, above all, close and not afraid of God’s people.

The Pope ended the celebration with Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction, inviting the faithful to make a Spiritual Communion.

The Masses in Francis’ chapel normally welcome a small group of faithful, but due to recent measures’ taken by the Vatican, are now being kept private, without their participation. The Holy Week and Easter celebrations in the Vatican were also done without the presence of faithful, but were able to be watched via streaming.

Likewise, the Pope had a private Mass for Divine Mercy Sunday, with very limited participation by others, at the Roman Church of Santo Spirito in Sassia. One could watch via streaming.

It was announced at the start of the lockdowns in Italy that the Pope would have these Masses, in this period, be available to all the world’s faithful, via streaming on Vatican Media, on weekdays, at 7 am Rome time, along with his weekly Angelus and General Audiences.

In Italy where more than 25,000 people have died from coronavirus, public Masses are still prohibited. To date, in the Vatican, there have been seven cases of coronavirus; at least two people healed.

The Vatican Museums are now closed, along with the Vatican’s other similar museums. There have also been various guidelines implemented throughout the Vatican, to prevent the spread of the virus.

For anyone interested, the Pope’s Masses at Santa Marta can be watched live and can be watched afterward on Vatican YouTube. Below is a link to today’s Mass. Also, a ZENIT English translation of the Pope’s full homily is available below:

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FULL HOMILY [translated by ZENIT’s Virginia Forrester]

This phrase of this passage makes us think: “This He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do.” It’s what Jesus had in mind when He says: “How are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” But He said it to put him, Philip, to the test. He knew. Seen here is Jesus’ attitude with the Apostles. He puts them to the test continually to teach them and, when they were out of bounds and out of the function they had to do, He stopped them and taught them. The Gospel is full of these gestures of Jesus to make His disciples grow to become Pastors of the People of God, in this case Bishops, Pastors of the People of God. And one of the things Jesus loved most was to be with the crowd, because this is also a symbol of the universality of Redemption. And one of the things that the Apostles disliked most was the crowd, because they liked to be close to the Lord, to hear the Lord, to hear all that the Lord said.

This day they went there to have a day of rest — say the other versions in the other Gospels, because all four speak of it . . . perhaps there were two multiplications of loaves — and they were coming from a mission and the Lord said: “Let’s go to rest a while.” And they went there and the people noticed where they went by the sea, they made a circle and waited for Him there. And the disciples weren’t happy because the people had ruined the Easter Monday, and they couldn’t have their celebration with the Lord. Despite this, Jesus began to teach, they listened, then they talked among themselves, and the hours, hours, hours went by, Jesus talked and the people happy. And they the Apostles said: “Our celebration is ruined; our rest is ruined.”

However, the Lord sought closeness with the people and He sought to form the heart of the Pastors to closeness with the People of God, to serve them. And they, we understand, were chosen and felt somewhat like a privileged circle, a privileged class, “an aristocracy,” let’s say, close to the Lord and many times the Lord did gestures to correct them. For instance, we think with children. They protected the Lord: “No, no, no, the children must not come close as they bother, disturb . . . No, the children with the parents.” And Jesus? “Let the children come.” And they didn’t understand. Then they understood. Then I think of the road to Jericho, that other who shouted: “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” And they : “But be quiet as the Lord is passing; don’t disturb Him.” And Jesus says: ”But, who is that? Have him come.” Again, the Lord . And so, He taught them closeness to the People of God.

It’s true that the People of God tire the Pastor, they tire him: things multiply when there is a good Pastor, because people always go to a good Pastor for one reason or another. Once, a great parish priest of a simple, humble neighbourhood of the diocese had the parsonage as a normal house and the people knocked on the door or knocked on the window, at all hours . . . and he once said to me: “But I would like to wall the door and the window so that they let me rest.” However, he was aware he was a Pastor and should be with the people. And Jesus forms, He teaches the disciples, the Apostles this pastoral attitude, which is closeness to the People of God. And the People of God tire one, because they always ask for concrete things, they always ask for something concrete, perhaps mistaken, but they ask for concrete things. And the Pastor must respond to these things. The version of the other evangelists when they make Jesus see that the hours were passing and that the people should go, because it was beginning to get dark, and they said: “But dismiss the people so that they may go to buy something to eat, in fact when it was dark, when it was beginning to get dark . . . But, what did they have in mind? At least to celebrate a bit among themselves, not an evil egoism but, we understand, to be with the Pastor, to be with Jesus who is the great Pastor. And, to test them, Jesus answers: “You give them to eat.” And this is what Jesus says today to all Pastors: “You give them to eat.” “Are they anguished? You give them consolation.” “Are they lost? You give them a way out. Are they mistaken? You give to them to resolve the problems . . . You give them. . . “And the poor Apostle feels he must give, give, give, but from whom does he receive? Jesus teaches us, from the same that Jesus received.

After this, he dismisses the Apostles and goes to pray, to the Father, . This twofold closeness of the Pastor is what Jesus seeks to help the Apostles understand, so that they become great Pastors. However, the crowd errs many times, and it erred here “Then the people, having seen the sign He had accomplished, said: “This is truly the prophet, He who is to come into the world!” However, Jesus, knowing that they were coming to take Him to make Him King, retired again.” Perhaps — the Gospel doesn’t say it — one of the Apostles might have said to Him: “But Lord, let’s take advantage of this and take power” — another temptation. And Jesus makes them see that that’s not the way. The power of a Pastor is service; he has no other power and, when he errs on another power the vocation is ruined and become, I don’t know, managers of pastoral businesses but not Pastors. The structure doesn’t do the pastoral: the heart of the Pastor is what does the pastoral. And the heart of the Pastor is what Jesus is teaching us now. Let’s pray to the Lord today for the Pastors of the Church; may the Lord speak to them always, because He loves them so much: may He speak to us always, may He tell us how things are, may He explain to us and, especially, teach us not to be afraid of the People of God, not to be afraid to be close to them.

The Pope ended the celebration with Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction, inviting the faithful to make a Spiritual Communion.

Here Is the Prayer Recited by the Pope:

My Jesus, I believe You are really present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the altar. I love You above all things and I desire you in my soul. As I cannot receive You sacramentally now, come at least spiritually into my heart. As if You have already come, I embrace You and unite myself wholly to You. Do not permit me to be ever separated from You.

Before leaving the Chapel, dedicated to the Holy Spirit, the Marian antiphon “Regina Caeli” was intoned, sung during Eastertide:

Regina caeli laetare, alleluia.

Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia.

Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia.

Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.

(Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.

Christ, whom you bore in your womb, alleluia,

Has Risen as He promised, alleluia.

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