VATICAN CITY (CNS) – If Jesus and His truth are to become truly present in today’s world, priests must do what Jesus did and be “street preachers,” going out to encounter and accompany sinners with tenderness and compassion, Pope Francis told the world’s priests.
Jesus “could have been a scribe or a doctor of the law, but he wanted to be an ‘evangelizer,’ a street preacher,” the bearer of good news for his people, the pope said March 29 during the chrism Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.
“This is God’s great choice: The Lord chose someone who is close to his people,” Pope Francis said. Jesus’ incarnation implies inculturation, so that people find his presence not only in far-off lands, but in their own parish, “in the new culture of young people,” he added.
Being close reflects an attitude and a way of relating to or connecting with others that allows the priest to be true to himself and be attentive to those with whom he engages, the pope said.
The people immediately recognize those priests as being special, he said. They are priests who are always available and who talk to everyone: adults, children, the poor and those who do not believe; they are “street priests,” he said.