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Priests Deacons and Bishops

Pope Francis   20.09.19    Holy Mass, Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae), Rome        1 Timothy 6: 2C-12
Pope Francis  20.19.19 Bishops, Priests, Deacons

In yesterdays' reading the Apostle Paul gives his advice to the young bishop Timothy. More advice to bishops is to be found in today’s reading.
Yesterday, at the heart of the message was the call to never neglect the gift of ordained ministry.
Today, the reflection focusses on things that weaken the ministerial life like money, gossip, chatter and silly discussions.

When a minister –
a priest, a deacon, a bishop – gives too much value to money", he attaches himself to the root of all evils, referring to today's reading in which Paul describes the love of money as the root of all evils (1Tim 6: 2C-12). "The devil enters from the pockets", is what the old ladies of my time used to say.

Not only bishops, but also priests and deacons, are called to be close.
There are four different ways that ordained ministers must be "close".

First of all, a bishop is a man who is close to God. The apostles invented deacons in order to better serve widows and orphans.
Peter, tells us that our duty – that is the duty of the apostles – is to pray and proclaim the Word.

The bishop’s first task is to pray: it gives us strength and awakens within us the awareness of this gift of the ordained ministry that must never be neglected.

Then second closeness for bishops is to be close to their priests, to their deacons and to their collaborators: the ones who are closest to them.
It is sad when a bishop forgets about his priests. It is sad to hear complaints from a priest who tells you: "I have called the bishop, but I need an appointment to say something to him, and the secretary has told me that everything is full up for three months. A bishop feels closeness to priests, if when he sees that a priest has called him today, he should call him back no later than tomorrow, because he has a right to know, to know that he has a father. Closeness to priests. The devil enters to divide the presbytery, to divide.
And when that happens, it leads to small groups who are divided by ideologies or by sympathies.

So, the third "closeness" of which I am speaking, is the need for closeness among priests themselves.

Finally the fourth is that of bishops and priests with the people of God.

In the second Letter, Paul tells Timothy not to forget his mother and his grandmother, meaning that he must not forget where he came from, where the Lord took him from. Do not forget your people, do not forget your roots! And now as a bishop and as a priest, we must always be close to the people of God.

When a bishop breaks away from the people of God he ends up in an atmosphere of ideologies that have nothing to do with ministry: he is not a minister, he is not a servant. He has forgotten the free gift that was given to him.

Let all of us ordained ministers not forget these four ways in which we must nurture "closeness": closeness to God, prayer, closeness of the bishop to his priests and of priest with the bishop; closeness of priests to each other and of bishops to each other; closeness to the people of God.

Do you pray for your priests, for the pastor, for the deputy pastor, or just criticize him? We must pray for priests and bishops, because all of us - the Pope is a bishop - we know how to preserve the gift - do not neglect this gift that has been given to us this closeness.