“Magic is not Christian”, said the Pope in the catechesis of today’s General Audience in Saint Peter’s Square before a crowd of nine thousand faithful, enriched with a number of impromptu pronouncements. “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 – Francis said drawing from the Acts of the Apostles – and reveals the weakness of the magical arts, which are abandoned by a great number of people who choose Christ and abandon the magical arts.” “A real reversal for a city, like Ephesus, which was a famous centre for the practice of magic! Luke thus emphasizes the incompatibility between faith in Christ and magic!” the Pope exclaimed, emphasizing the incompatibility between faith in Christ and magic.
“If you choose Christ you cannot have recourse to the magician”,
he cautioned. “Faith is trusting abandonment into the hands of a trustworthy God Who makes Himself known not through occult practices but through revelation and with freely-given love.” Magic – said the Holy Father – is not “something old”, it happens even today in “large cities”, where people go for a Tarot card reading. “Please: magic is not Christian!”, the Pope pointed out: “These things that are done to predict the future or foresee many things or change life situations, are not Christian. The grace of Christ brings you everything: pray and entrust yourself to the Lord.”
“The spread of the Gospel in Ephesus – the Pope continued – harms the trade of silversmiths, who produced statues of the goddess Artemis, turning a religious practice into a business opportunity.” “Keep vigil”, the Pope enjoined.
“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” Francis recounted, reminding us that Paul then departs from Ephesus to Jerusalem and arrives in Miletus: “Here he calls for the elders of the Church of Ephesus – the presbyters: that is, the priests – so as to make a transfer of ‘pastoral’ duties. We are at the final stages of Paul’s apostolic ministry, and Luke presents us with his farewell speech, a sort of spiritual testament that the Apostle addresses to those who, after his departure, will have to lead the community of Ephesus.”
“This is one of the most beautiful pages of the Book of the Acts of the Apostles”, the Pope said inviting the faithful to read today the related passage: “It is a way of understanding how an Apostle bids farewell, and also how priests today must take leave, and also how all Christians should take leave It is a beautiful page.”
“Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock”. For Saint Paul “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”, the Holy Father declared:
“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.” “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”, Francis continued: “The bishops must be very close to the people to protect them, to defend them; not detached from the populace.” The Pope’s final recommendation: “I advise you to take today the Bible, the Acts of the Apostles chapter 20, from verse 17: it’s a gem and it will do good to us all.”