Monday, December 10, 2012

Being a Pastor – Gregory the Great

“Our Lord said to his disciples, ‘See, I am sending you out like a lamb among wolves.’ There are many people, when put in positions of authority, who became hard and severe. Relishing the chance to tear their subordinates to pieces., and using their power to terrify and hurt those whom they are called to serve. There is no love in their hearts because they always need to be in control: they forget that they are called to nurture their people as a parent. They exchange humility for pride in the positions they occupy, and though outwardly they may sometimes appear indulgent, inwardly, they are full of anger. It is of them that in another place in the Gospels our Lord says: ‘They have come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.’

My friends, we should remember that we are sent as lambs among wolves, and must therefore guard our innocence lest malice overtake us. Those who undertake any pastoral office should never be the cause of evil, and should actually be prepared to have to endure it. By gentleness they must soften the anger of the violent: wounded ourselves by ill treatment, we can bring healing to other sinners. If on a particular occasion a zeal for justice requires a display of severity, then let severity have its source in Love and not in brutality. In this way, authority is demonstrated outwardly, and inwardly we experience a true paternal love for those in our care. This is what our blessed Master was teaching us when he himself demonstrated that his was no selfish love, being unconcerned with worldly honour or ambition.

Our Lord Continues: ‘Take neither purse, nor bag for the journey, nor sandles, and greet no one along the way.’ We should have such confidence in God that though we have no material security, we will never lack the necessities of life. Such confidence obviates the necessity of spending time in the pursuit of temporal goods when we should be securing eternal goods for others. We have no leisure for idle conversation in our calling; rather we hurry along the path of preaching.”

(Homilies on the Gospels, Number 17  'On the Pastoral Office',  Sections 4 and 5)

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