Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Pope: The shepherd who follows Jesus, although abandoned by everyone, always has the Lord by his side

http://www.asianews.it/files/img/size2/F_-_S__Marta_6.jpgThe pastor who follows Jesus and shuns power, even if it is abandoned by everyone will always have the Lord by His side, until the end of life. 

He will be desolate, but never bitter, said Pope Francis said today at Mass in Casa Santa Marta, taking a cue from the Second Letter to Timothy, to highlight how the apostles, prophets and martyrs have experienced loneliness and trials at the end of their lives: “Alone, begging, abandoned by all and the victim of fury.

But this is the great Paul, the man who heard the voice of the Lord, the call of the Lord! The man who went from one place to another, who suffered so many things and so many trials for preaching the Gospel, who made the Apostles understand that the Lord wants Gentiles to enter into the Church as well, the great Paul who when praying rose to the Seventh Heaven and heard things that nobody else had heard before: the Great Paul, there, in that small room of a house in Rome, waiting to see how that struggle would end within the Church between the different sides, between the rigidity of the Judaizers and those disciples faithful to him. And this is how the life of the great Paul ends, in desolation: not in resentment or bitterness but with an inner desolation.”
 
Pope Francis went on to point out that Peter and St John the Baptist suffered similar privations in the final stage of their lives with the latter having his head cut off owing to “the caprice of a dancer and the revenge of an adulterous woman.” In more recent times, he said it was the same for Maximilian Kolbe who created a worldwide apostolic movement and yet died in the prison cell of a death camp. When an apostle is faithful, stressed the Pope, he or she knows that they too can expect the same end that Jesus faced. But the Lord stays close and does not abandon them and they find their strength in Him. Pope Francis said “This is the Law of the Gospel: if the grain of wheat doesn’t die it doesn’t produce new seeds” and reminded that a theologian of the early centuries wrote that the blood of martyrs are the seeds of Christians.

“To die in this way like martyrs, as witnesses of Jesus, is the grain that dies and gives rise to new seeds and fills the earth with new Christians. When a pastor lives like this he is not embittered: maybe he feels desolate but he has that certainty that the Lord is beside him. When a pastor during his life was attached to other things, rather than to the faithful - for example he was attached to power, money, being part of a clique, to many things - then at his death he won’t be alone, maybe his grandchildren (heirs) will be there waiting for him to die so they can see what possessions they can take away with them.”

Pope Francis concluded his homily by describing the attitude of many elderly priests now living in retirement homes who despite their sufferings remain close to the Lord.

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