"A bishop’s strength against the 'Great Accuser' is prayer, that of Jesus and his own," Francis says in Santa Marta
Pope Francis today reflected on the Gospel passage of Jesus choosing the Twelve Apostles, during his homily at morning Mass in the Casa Santa Marta.
He invited the bishops to remember three things in these troubled times: their strength lies in being men of prayer; they should have the humility to remember they are chosen by God; and they need to remain close to the people.
Prayer, he said, “is a bishop’s consolation in difficult times.”
“Jesus is praying for me and for all bishops,” he said, and this should bring consolation and strength to bishops, who are then called to pray for themselves and the people of God. This, the Holy Father said, is a bishop’s first duty.
Next, Pope Francis invited bishops to be humble, because they are chosen by God.
The bishop who loves Jesus is not trying to climb a ladder, advancing his vocation as if it were a mere task or seeking a better placement or promotion. No. A bishop feels chosen, and has the certainty of being chosen. This drives him to speak with the Lord: ‘You chose me, of little importance, a sinner.’ He is humble, because he feels chosen and feels Jesus’ gaze upon his whole being. This gives him strength.
Lastly, Pope Francis said bishops are called to be close to the people of God, and not shut themselves up in an ivory tower.
The bishop cannot remain distant from the people; he cannot have attitudes that take him away from them… He doesn’t try to find refuge with the powerful or elite. No. The ‘elites’ criticize bishops, while the people have an attitude of love towards the bishop. This is almost a special unction that confirms the bishop in his vocation.
The Holy Father said these three attitudes give strength against the devil, known as “the Great Accuser.”
He said that it seems Satan has been “unchained” and is particularly attacking bishops.
And it’s true, there are some … we are all sinners, we bishops. [Satan] tries to uncover the sins, so they will be seen, to scandalize the people. The ‘Great Accuser,’ as he himself says to God in the first chapter of the Book of Job, ‘roams the earth looking for someone to accuse.’
A bishop’s strength against the ‘Great Accuser’ is prayer, that of Jesus and his own, and the humility of being chosen and remaining close to the people of God, without seeking an aristocratic life that removes this unction.
Let us pray, today, for our bishops: for me, for those who are here, and for all the bishops throughout the world.