Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
December 14, 2009
Cantalamessa says priests must be men of compassion
God did not send his son to condemn the world
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
VATICAN CITY - Priests are not called to judge others, but to bring God's saving grace, his love and compassion to the world, said the preacher of the papal household.
The preacher, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, told Pope Benedict and top Vatican officials Dec. 4 that St. John's Gospel recalls, "'God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.'"
Priests, who are continuing Christ's work on earth, are asked to adopt this outlook toward all people: "Do not judge, but save" them, the papal preacher said.
Offering an Advent meditation during the Year for Priests, Cantalamessa dedicated his reflection to the role of priests.
Again citing St. John's Gospel, the preacher said God loved the world so much, he gave his only son "so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but have eternal life."
Priests are called to continue this mission and offer people "sympathy, a sense of solidarity, and compassion," he said.
Jesus, the compassionate high priest, is able to sympathize with human weakness, the papal preacher said.
The priestly servant of Christ should also "'deal patiently with the ignorant and erring, for he himself is beset by weakness and so for this reason must make sin offerings for himself as well as for the people,'" he said, quoting from the St. Paul's Letter to the Hebrews.
Although the Gospel writers showed Jesus could harshly judge and condemn others, he never did so with everyday people who came to hear him speak, Cantalamessa said.
Jesus was stern with those who were hypocritical or full of themselves, and with "the teachers and leaders of the people," he said. Jesus was harsh with the powerful, and gentle with the weak.
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