(Vatican Radio) At his morning mass on Friday Pope Francis reflected on the later life challenges of three biblical figures, Moses, St. John the Baptist and St Paul. He said none of the 3 were spared anguish at the end of their lives although the Lord never abandoned them. The Pope also urged the faithful to remember and visit the many elderly priests and sisters living in their nursing homes because they are true shrines of holiness. 

In his homily, the Pope looked at the vigour and enthusiasm displayed by the young Moses, St. John the Baptist and St Paul at the beginning of their apostolate and compared it with the solitude and anguish they endured at the end of their lives. 

The Pope said the apostle St Paul “has a joyful and enthusiastic beginning” but is not spared a decline in his later years and it was a similar situation with Moses and St. John the Baptist. “Moses, when young, he continued, was “the courageous leader of the People of God who fought against his enemies” to save his people.” But at the end of his life, “he is alone on Mount Nebo, looking at the promised land” but unable to enter it. 

Turning to the later life of St. John the Baptist, the Pope noted that the apostle had to struggle with an anguish that tormented him and “finished under the power of a weak, corrupt and drunken ruler who in turn was under the power of an adulteress’ jealousy and the capricious wishes of a dancer.”

St. Paul, the Pope said, also faced similar trials at the end of his life and in his letters spoke of all those who had abandoned him and who had denounced his preaching. But as he went on to stress, Paul wrote that “the Lord was close to him and gave him the strength to complete his mission of announcing the Gospel.”

Pope Francis said these later life challenges of these 3 figures reminded him of” the shrines of holiness which are the nursing homes of elderly priests and religious sisters.” “Bearing the burden of solitude, these priests and sisters are waiting for the Lord to knock at the door of their hearts” and he urged the faithful not to forget them and to visit them.