Jesus the Good Shepherd was the focus of Pope Francis’ Angelus address on Sunday in St Peter’s Square. In his first major public event since his return from Latin America, the Holy Father spoke about the Gospel of the day, which tells how Jesus took his Apostles “to a secluded place” to rest after their experience of mission.
The people, though, having discovered where Jesus was going, went there ahead of Him. It is at this point, the Pope said, the Evangelist gives us an intense view of Jesus, almost a photograph, which captures “the sentiments of His Heart”: Jesus, seeing the crowd, is “moved with pity” for them because “they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things.”
Pope Francis said the three words “to see,” “to have compassion,” and “to teach” might be called “the words of the Shepherd.” Jesus does not look on people as a sociologist or a photographer would; rather, the Lord always sees people “with the eyes of the heart.” Likewise, Jesus’ compassion is not simply a human emotion, but is rather the compassion of “the Messiah in whom the tenderness of God is made flesh.” It is this compassion that leads Jesus “to nourish the crowd with the bread of His Word.”
The Holy Father said that he had prayed to the Lord that the Spirit of Jesus the Good Shepherd would guide him on his Apostolic Voyage to Latin America, which concluded last Sunday. After renewing his thanks to the civil authorities and the members of the Church in Ecuador, Bolivia, and Paraguay, Pope Francis spoke about the challenges facing the Church in Latin America. “The Latin American continent,” he said, “has great human and spiritual potential, it preserves deeply rooted Christian values, and yet also experiences grave social and economic problems.” In order to help address those problems, the Pope said the Church is committed to mobilizing the “spiritual and moral strength of her communities” in collaboration with the various components of society.
Concluding his Angelus address, Pope Francis entrusted the fruits of his “unforgettable” Apostolic Voyage to the Virgin Mary, who is venerated throughout Latin America under the title of “Our Lady of Guadalupe.”
When everything falls apart, only one thing sustains our hope: God loves us, he loves everyone!