By Christopher Wells
Pope Francis continued his series of catecheses on the Acts of the Apostle’s during his weekly General Audience in St Peter’s Square.
The Holy Father looked at St Paul’s ministry in Ephesus, and his farewell message to the leaders of the community after he left.
St Paul's ministry in Ephesus
While he was in Ephesus, St Paul was able to work miracles of all kinds, including healing the sick and liberating those who were oppressed. He was able to do so, the Pope said, precisely because Paul resembled Jesus, His Master, “and made Him present, communicating to his brothers and sisters the same new life that he himself had received” from the Lord.
Magic is not Christian
The Pope also noted that Paul exposed exorcists in Ephesus who attempted to cast out demons without spiritual authority; and he exposed the weakness of magic, which many people abandoned after Paul’s preaching. St Luke, who wrote Acts, emphasized the incompatibility between faith in Christ and magic; and Pope Francis underlined the point: “If you choose Christ, you can’t turn to magicians”. But even today, he said, some Christians will go to fortune-tellers, who use tarot cards or read palms to tell the future. But “magic is not Christian!” the Pope insisted, saying that Christians should remember “the grace of Christ brings you everything” and concluding, “Pray, and entrust yourself to the Lord”.
"Watch over the flock"
Pope Francis then turned to St Paul’s final farewell to the Christian community in Ephesus, after he had left the city. The Apostle exhorted the elders – that is, the Pope said, the priests – to “watch over yourselves and the whole flock”. This, the Pope said, “is the work of the pastor: to keep watch, to be vigilant, to guard the flock; but also oneself, examining one’s conscience.” Bishops, he continued, are called to be very close to their flock, [which has been] redeemed by the Precious Blood of Christ, and to be ready to defend it from the wolves”.
Then, the Pope says, “after entrusting this task” to the leaders of the Church in Ephesus, “Paul places them in the hands of God, and entrusts them to the word of His grace” which is “the leaven of every growth and path of holiness in the Church.
Renew in us His love for the Church
The Holy Father concluded his homily asking us to pray that the Lord would “renew in us His love for the Church and for the deposit of the faith, which she preserves, and to make us all co-responsible in the custody of the flock, supporting in prayer the shepherds so that they may manifest the tenderness and love of the Divine Shepherd”.