Therefore, when we see Pope Francis embracing the poor, reaching out to the disadvantaged, nurturing the sick, supporting the weak and defending the helpless, we are not simply seeing a kindly old man in a white cassock trying to be nice to people. We are seeing the historic figure of the Good Shepherd alive in the world today. As God came in the form of Jesus the Good Shepherd, so that same authority and gift is delegated to the person of the Pope.
Finally, when the Pope acts out the role of the Good Shepherd in the world he reminds the Christian pastors of all denominations what their role is. One of the Pope’s titles is “Chief pastor” and as such Pope Francis, by his words and works echoes the encouragement of the first pope—St. Peter—who writes to the church leaders in his first epistle, “ I exhort you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”
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