In imitation of Christ, priests must be close to God in prayer, which will enable them to be close to their flocks.
What “gives authority” to Jesus, the pope explained in his homily today at Casa Santa Marta, is precisely his closeness to the people, because he understands their problems, pains, and sins. He welcomes, heals, and teaches them, coming close to them.
The Holy Father said that pastors should follow this example, being close to God in prayer. A pastor who does not pray, who does not seek God, he said, cannot be close to the people. And a pastor detached from the people cannot bring his message to them. This double closeness is what the anointing of the pastor consists in, because moved by God’s gift of prayer, the pastor in turn can be moved by the sins, the problems, and the diseases of the people.
Pastor’s double life
The pope further explained that the Scribes had lost the ability to be moved because they were neither close to the people nor to God. When one loses this closeness, the Pope said, the pastor ends up “in incoherent life.”
Addressing pastors who might have become detached from God and from the people, the pope told them not to lose hope. He said, it was enough for Eli to look at Hannah, approach and listen to her, and awaken the authority to bless and prophesy.
Authority, the pope explained, is a gift that comes only from God, which Jesus gives to His own. Authority in speaking, he said, always comes from one’s closeness to God and to the people. Authority is coherence, not double life. And if a pastor loses his authority, he should not lose hope, as there is always time to come close and reawaken one’s authority and prophecy.
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