During his Tuesday morning homily, Pope Francis reflected on his papacy and said he has thought about when it would come time to “take leave” of his flock.
The statements came during Pope Francis’ Tuesday morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta residence. In his homily, he reflected on the day’s Gospel readings where the Apostle Paul “compelled by the Holy Spirit,” took his leave from the Church Elders at Ephesus to go travel to Jerusalem. Pope Francis expressed his hope that all bishops around the world follows Paul’s example of obedience to the Holy Spirit and love for his flock, and to discern when it is time to take leave of their own flock.
“I earnestly bore witness for both Jews and Greeks to repentance before God and to faith in our Lord Jesus. But now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem. What will happen to me there I do not know, except that in one city after another the holy Spirit has been warning me that imprisonment and hardships await me” – Acts 20:21-23
Pope Francis reflected that bishops should not consider their tenure as simply “advancing in an ecclesiastical career,” but instead be reminded to “take care of each other and of the entire flock.” In reflecting on Paul’s departure to Jerusalem in following the Holy Spirit, Pope Francis said he is reminded of himself as well, and when the time will come for him to take his own leave.
“When I read this, I think about myself, because I am a bishop and I must take my leave and step down.”
While the Vatican only released excerpts from the Mass, Pope Francis ended his homily saying all bishops are in his thoughts and prayers:
“May the Lord grant all of us the grace to be able to take our leave and step down in this way, like Paul, with that spirit, with that strength, with that love for Jesus Christ and this faith in the Holy Spirit.”