Paul VI Audience Hall 04 December 2019
Fr. Peter Charles Crowther obl. sbso | The Presbytery, Bury Lane, Withnell, Chorley, PR6 8SD | Tel 01254 830 995 | Reg Charity: 232709
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Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
The journey of the Gospel in the world continues unabated in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, and crosses the city of Ephesus, where it manifests all its saving power. Thanks to Paul, about twelve men receive baptism in the name of Jesus and experience the outpouring of the Holy Spirit Who regenerates them (cf. Acts 19: 1-
The power of God that irrupts into Ephesus unmasks those who wish to use the name of Jesus to carry out exorcisms without having the spiritual authority to do so (cf. Acts 19: 13-
The spread of the Gospel in Ephesus harms the trade of silversmiths, who produced statues of the goddess Artemis, turning a religious practice into a business opportunity. Seeing the decline of the activity that yielded a lot of money, the silversmiths organize an uprising against Paul, and Christians are accused of having caused a crisis for craftsmen, for the shrine to Artemis and the worship of this goddess (cf. Acts 19: 23-
Paul then departs from Ephesus to Jerusalem and arrives in Miletus (cf. Acts 20: 1-
In the part which takes the form of an exhortation, Paul encourages those in charge of the community, who know that they are seeing him for the last time. And what does he say to them? “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock”. This is the job of the pastor: to keep vigil, to watch over himself and his flock. The pastor must keep watch, the parish priest must keep vigil, keep watch, priests must keep watch, bishops, the Pope must keep watch. Keeping vigil to guard the flock, and also to keep watch over oneself, examine one’s conscience and see how one fulfils this duty to keep vigil. “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the Church of God, which He obtained with His own blood” (Acts 20: 28): this is what Saint Paul says. The episcopi are asked to be as close as possible to the flock, redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, and to be ready to defend it from the “wolves” (v. 29). The bishops must be very close to the people to protect them, to defend them; not detached fro the populace. After entrusting this task to those responsible for Ephesus, Paul places them in the hands of God and entrusts them to the “word of His grace” (v. 32), the leaven of every growth and path of holiness in the Church, inviting them to work with their own hands, like him, so as not to be a burden on others, to help the weak and to experience that “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (v. 35).
Dear brothers and sisters, let us ask the Lord to renew in us His love for the Church and for the deposit of the faith which she preserves, and to make us all co-
I greet the English-