Pope Francis says he prays all bishops follow the example of the Apostle Paul with his obedience to the Holy Spirit and his love for his flock. His words came during his homily at Mass celebrated on Tuesday morning in the Vatican’s Santa Marta residence.
Pope Francis focused his reflections on the day’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles where Paul, “compelled by the Holy Spirit,” takes his leave from the Church Elders at Ephesus to go to Jerusalem. “It’s a decisive move, a move that reaches the heart, it’s also a move that shows us the pathway for every bishop when it’s time to take his leave and step down,” he said. Retracing the biblical account of how Paul summoned the presbyters of the Church at Ephesus to take his leave of them, Pope Francis noted how the Apostle made an examination of his conscience, telling the Elders what he had done for the community and leaving them to judge his work. Paul seemed “a bit proud,” said the Pope, but in actual fact “he is objective.” He only boasts about two things: “his own sins and the Cross of Jesus Christ which saved him.” Describing how Paul feels “compelled by the Holy Spirit” to go to Jerusalem, Pope Francis said: “This experience by the bishop, the bishop who can discern the Spirit, who can discern when it is the Spirit of God speaking to him and who knows how to defend himself when spoken to by the spirit of the world.” In some way, the Pope said, Paul knows that he is going “towards trials, towards the cross and this recalls for us Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, doesn’t it?”