Pope at Regina Coeli: Jesus the Good Shepherd awaits us with open arms

At the Regina Coeli on Good Shepherd Sunday, Pope Francis reminds us that Jesus loves us without limit, giving His life for us. He prays that we may go meet the Lord and allow ourselves "to be welcomed and lifted up by the loving arms of our Good Shepherd."

By Thaddeus Jones

Greeting the crowds in Saint Peter's Square for the midday Regina Coeli, Pope Francis reflected on the Gospel reading for this Fourth Sunday of Easter dedicated to Jesus the Good Shepherd. The Lord repeats three times that "the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep," the Pope observed, underscoring that He loves each and every one of us without limit and sacrificed his life for us.

A shepherd during Christ's time required spending entire days and nights caring for the sheep, not just a few hours a day, the Pope explained. And the good shepherd knows each one of his sheep, looking out for them, searching for them if they are lost, ensuring their safety and needs are met by living in symbiosis with them.

Jesus not only shares the life of the flock, knowing each person by name, searching for us when we go astray until He finds us, but is "the Good Shepherd who has sacrificed His life for us and has given us His Spirit through His resurrection," the Pope continued.

Love without limit

The image of the Good Shepherd then shows us how the Lord is not only our guide, the Head of the flock, but how above all He "thinks of each of us as the love of His life," the Pope underscored, as the Lord sees each of us as "important, irreplaceable, worth the infinite price of His life." And this is not just a way of speaking, the Pope said, the Lord "truly gave His life for me, He died and rose again for me, because He loves me and He finds in me a beauty that I often do not see myself."

Inestimable worth

Many people see themselves as inadequate or wrong, basing their value on what they achieve, how the world sees them, or the judgements of others, the Pope observed. But Jesus tells us we are worth so much to Him and always, the Pope underscored. So to truly find ourselves and happiness, we must seek to be in the Lord's presence, "allowing ourselves to be welcomed and lifted up by the loving arms of our Good Shepherd."

Rediscovering life's secret

The Pope then recommended we examine our own lives and consider whether we really accept the assurance of the Lord's boundless love that gives value and meaning to our lives. And this can be done through moments of prayer, adoration, praise, striving to remember and be in the Lord's loving presence. If we endeavour to do this in our lives, we will rediscover life's secret, the Pope concluded, as "you will remember that He gave His life for you, for me, for all of us. And that for Him, we are all important, each and every one of us"

“May Our Lady help us to find in Jesus what is essential for life.”

World Day of Prayer for Vocations

During the Regina Coeli, Pope Francis also recalled that today we celebrate the Church's World Day of Prayer for Vocations centered on the theme "Called to sow seeds of hope and to build peace."

The Pope recalled how today's celebration offers "a beautiful opportunity to rediscover the Church as a community characterized by an orchestra of charisms and vocations in the service of the Gospel."

He then greeted a group of new priests of the Diocese of Rome ordained at a celebration yesterday afternoon in Saint Peter's Basilica and asked everyone to pray for them.

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21 April 2024, 12:24

What is the Regina Coeli?

The antiphon Regina Coeli (“Queen of Heaven”) is one of four traditional Marian antiphons, the others being Alma Redemptoris Mater, Ave Regina Coelorum, and Salve Regina.

It was Pope Benedict XIV who, in 1742, enjoined the recitation of the Regina Coeli in place of the Angelus during Eastertide, that is, from Easter Sunday to the end of Pentecost. It is recited standing as a sign of Christ’s victory over death.

Like the Angelus, the Regina Coeli is said three times a day, at dawn, at noon, and at dusk, in order to consecrate the day to God and the Virgin Mary.

This ancient antiphon arose, according to a pious tradition, in the 6th century; it is attested in documentary sources from the first half of the 13th century, when it was inserted in the Franciscan breviary. It is composed of four short verses, each ending with an “alleluia.” With the Regina Coeli, the faithful turn to Mary, the Queen of Heaven, to rejoice with her at the Resurrection of Christ.

At the Regina Coeli on Easter Monday of 2015, Pope Francis spoke about the spiritual dispositions that should animate the faithful as they recite this Marian prayer:

“In this prayer, expressed by the Alleluia, we turn to Mary inviting her to rejoice, because the One whom she carried in her womb is Risen as He promised, and we entrust ourselves to her intercession. In fact, our joy is a reflection of Mary’s joy, for it is she who guarded and guards with faith the events of Jesus. Let us therefore recite this prayer with the emotion of children who are happy because their mother is happy.”

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