Paul's testament is a testimony. It is also an announcement. It is also a challenge: "I have come this far. Now you must continue". How far is this testament from the wills of the worldly. "When I read this - Francis confessed - I think of myself because I am a bishop and I must say goodbye".
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "To take leave" as Paul, who in his last will and testament speaks of his love for God and his flock. This is how it should be for all bishops, including the Pope, said Pope Francis this morning at Mass at Casa Santa Marta.
He was inspired by the passage of the Acts of the Apostles in which Paul summoned the elders of the Church, priests, to Ephesus, convoking a priests council to take his leave of them.
"It is a strong step, a step that reaches the heart; it is also a step that makes us see the path of every bishop when the time comes to take their leave". In the passage it is said that Paul first examines his conscience, speaks of what he has done for the community and submits it to their judgment.
Paul seems somewhat proud, however, said Francis, and this is the objective. He boasts of only two things: "of his own sins and of the Cross of Jesus Christ who saved him". Then he explains that now "forced by the Spirit", he must go to Jerusalem.
It is, the Pope said, "this experience of the bishop, the bishop who knows how to discern the Spirit, who knows how to discern when it is the Spirit of God who speaks and who knows how to defend himself when the spirit of the world speaks".
Paul knows, in a way, that he is going "to tribulation, to the cross and this makes us think about the entrance of Jesus to Jerusalem, no? He enters to suffer and Paul goes towards his passion".
The apostle, emphasized Francis, "offers himself to the Lord, obedient. That forced by the Spirit. The bishop who always moves forward, but according to the Holy Spirit. This is Paul ".
Finally, the apostle takes his leave, amid the pain of those present, and leaves some advice, his will and testament, which is not a worldly testament. He does not say: "This material good that I leave you give it to him, this to her, that ...". That is a worldly testament. His great love is Jesus Christ. His second love, the flock. "Watch over yourselves and over the whole flock". Watch the flock; you are bishops for the flock, to keep the flock, not to climb up the ladder in an ecclesiastical career, no. Paul entrusts to God the presbyters sure that He will guard them and help them. Then, he returns to his experience saying that he had not desired for himself "neither silver nor gold nor anyone's vestments". Paul's testament is a testimony. It is also an announcement. It is also a challenge: "I have come this far. Now you must continue ". How far is this testament from worldly testaments: " I leave this to him, that to her, that to the other, that to the other ...", so many material goods.
"When I read this - Francis confessed - I think of myself because I am a bishop and I must say goodbye". "I ask the Lord - he concluded - for the grace to be able to take my leave like this. And in my examination of conscience I will not emerge victorious as Paul who ... But the Lord is good, he is merciful, but ... I think of the bishops, of all the bishops. May the Lord give grace to all of us to be able to take our leave this way, with this spirit, with this strength, with this love of Jesus Christ, with this trust in the Holy Spirit ".