VATICAN CITY (CNS) — People were drawn to Jesus because he was a good shepherd — not a moralist, not power-hungry, not a revolutionary and not a hermit, Pope Francis said.
Jesus “wasn’t embarrassed about talking to sinners, he went to find them” and he felt joy going out, getting close to the people, listening to their problems and offering them healing, the pope said during an early morning Mass June 26 in the chapel of his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
He also clearly and forcefully spoke the truth about God in ways that “astonished” those who listened, warming their hearts so they’d come to love “the things of God,” he said.
According to Vatican Radio, the pope looked at why so many people came to follow Jesus during his lifetime and not the many religious authorities at the time.
The Pharisees, the pope said, overburdened the people with laws and requirements that could often be contradictory and, therefore, “cruel” because it was impossible to adhere to every single moral rule.
The Sadducees, he said, “had lost the faith” and used their religious authority to strike “deals with those in power: political power and economic power. They were men of power.”
The Zealots called for “revolution to free the people of Israel from Roman occupation,” he said, and the Essenes were monks who “were far from the people, and the people couldn’t follow them.”
These four groups “were the voices that reached the people, and none of these voices had the strength to warm the people’s heart,” the pope said.
But with Jesus it was different, he said.
Jesus wasn’t a Pharisee upholding moral laws based on unsound reasoning; he wasn’t “a Sadducee who conducted political business with the powerful, nor a guerrilla who sought the political liberation of his people, nor a monastic contemplative. He was a pastor,” the pope said.
He was “a pastor who spoke the language of his people, he made himself understood, he told the truth — the things of God, he never negotiated the things of God.”
“But he talked about them in such a way that the people loved the things of God. For this reason, they followed him,” he said.
He said the people also followed Jesus because they recognized his authority. He “never strayed from the people and he never strayed from his father.”
He asked that people pray and ask God for the grace to be close to Jesus, to follow him and “to be astonished by what Jesus tells us,” the kind of astonishment that comes from “finding something good and great.”