Father Baez is a parish priest in Pope Francis’s former Archdiocese of Buenos Aires. He arrived in Rome late Jan. 7 and headed over to St. Peter’s Square the next day.
Pope Francis saw him from a distance and yelled to him, “What are you doing here?”
And he yelled back, “I came to see you!”
The pope had the driver stop the vehicle. He gestured to the priest to come.
“And I ran as best I could,” squeezing past the people pressed in front of him, past the large wooden barricades snaking through the square and past a large security detail that is now used to protocol being thrown to the wind.
The pope said, “Come, get on!” and gave the priest an empty seat next to his papal assistant.
Father Baez said that later, when he thought about it, he felt that phrase “Come, get on” was also meant for the whole world.
“When he invited me, he invited all priests to be near the people,” he said, and the pope was also inviting all people “to stand up, rise up and go,” and lift their hearts and lives up to the Lord.
Father Baez spoke very fondly of his former bishop. “He showed all of us priests how to be a priest, how to care for people, to be a pastor with the smell of sheep.”
Pope Francis’ homily Jan. 9 during his morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives, was about what Jesus meant by love.
Jesus “speaks to us of concrete things: feed the hungry, visit the sick. When there isn’t this concreteness, one can be living a Christianity of illusion because the person doesn’t really understand the core of Jesus’ message,” he said.
The pope said there were two things that make Christian love concrete. “First, love with actions, not with words. The wind whisks words away; today they’re here, tomorrow they’re not,” he said.
The second thing is “for love, it’s more important to give than receive. A person who loves, gives and gives,” he said, while someone who doesn’t love “is self-centered, always tries to receive, always looks to have things, have perks.”
Instead, people need to have an “open heart” that isn’t hardened against God.