Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem encourages priests to be “courageous witnesses of the Gospel”

Jasjot Singh

The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Bishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, encouraged priests around the world to be “courageous witnesses to the Gospel.”

While presiding over the Holy Mass this April 5 from the Cenacle in Jerusalem, in a ceremony in which priests from all over the world were able to renew the sacrament of Holy Orders, Bishop Pizzaballa said that it is in that place “where we remember the institution of Eucharist, of the priesthood, the commandment of love and service, the gift of the Holy Spirit and of peace”.

That is, he continued, “a place, therefore, that calls us to the origin of our faith, but that tells us above all what is the heart of the priestly mission”.

In the Eucharistic celebration, held within the framework of the virtual pilgrimage “Touring the Holy Land hand in hand with the Church” of the Magdala Center, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem stressed that “we are priests and ministers for the people and not for ourselves” .

“If I, as bishop, think of my role as pastor of the people of God in this particular Church, united with the priests of my diocese, as first collaborators in my ministry, I cannot forget that we are acting before the people of God entrusted to our pastoral care,” he noted.

“We are those who are willing to wash the feet of those for whom we were called,” he added.

The Prelate then encouraged priests to allow themselves “to be questioned by our faithful, who have the right to see in us courageous witnesses of the Gospel and signs of an authentic life, which speaks for itself, and not only through empty words or fake appearances”.

“As priests, indeed, sometimes we deal with too many things and we run the risk of losing the essence of what our true vocation is. As shepherds of souls, we can believe we are saviors, forgetting that we too are saved”, he warned.

“We consider ourselves to be doctors and masters of knowledge, but how many times does the wisdom of simple people hit us,” he said.

Bishop Pizzaballa also recalled the importance of prayer in the lives of priests, because “we must pray a lot so that the dust, which year after year sticks to our feet, sometimes tired of walking along paths made of so much joy and passion, but also misunderstandings and poverty, do not cover our minds”.

“Dust that could sometimes also cover our hearts, keeping them away from the Heart of Christ,” he said.

“Jesus remains available to wash our feet, to forgive our sins, our infidelities, our miseries. He invites us to regenerate ourselves through the Sacrament of reconciliation and repeats to us the same words said to Peter: ‘if you don’t let me wash your feet you will have no part with me,’” he said.

The virtual pilgrimage “Touring the Holy Land hand in hand with the Church”, carried out free of charge by the Magdala Center, began on February 28 and will end on April 21. To participate, you can register at the link https://email.magdala.org/h/y/86615AE19BF451F3

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