In his homily at Mass on Tuesday morning, Pope Francis said it seems the Great Accuser is attacking the bishops of the Catholic Church to create scandal.
The Pope invited them to remember three things in these troubled times: their strength lies in being men of prayer; they should have the humility to remember they were chosen by God; and they need to remain close to the people.
He reflected on the day’s Gospel (Lk 6:12-19), in which Jesus spends the night in prayer before choosing the Twelve Apostles, whom the Pope called “the first bishops”.
First, Pope Francis said bishops must be men of prayer. Prayer, he said, “is a bishop’s consolation in difficult times,” since they know that “Jesus is praying for me and for all bishops.”
The Pope said 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 were 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 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 has an attitude of love towards the bishop. This is almost a special unction that confirms the bishop in his vocation.”
Finally, Pope Francis said bishops need these three attitudes to face the scandal whipped up by the Great Accuser.
“In these times, it seems like the Great Accuser has been unchained and is attacking bishops. True, we are all sinners, we bishops. He tries to uncover the sins, so they are visible in order 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.”