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Pope Francis: in Santa Marta, the real shepherd knows how to take leave, because he is not “at the centre of the story”, he is “a servant”

Vaticano, 30 maggio 2017: Papa Francesco celebra la Messa in Santa Marta (L'Osservatore Romano (www.photo.va) / SIR)

Reflecting on the first Reading from the Acts of the Apostles, in which Paul takes leave from the Church in Ephesus that he had founded himself, in the sermon at the Mass celebrated this morning at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis explains that Paul is the standard of the real shepherd, a free man, who served without compromises and without taking hold of the flock, feeling like “a servant”. This has been reported by the Vatican Radio station. “All we shepherds – Francis states –, we all must take leave. A time comes when the Lord tells us: go somewhere else, go there, come here, come to me. And one of the steps that a shepherd must take is also getting ready to take leave well, not take leave by halves. The shepherd who does not learn how to take leave is because he has some bad connection with his flock, a connection that has not been purified for Jesus’s Cross”. “One of the things that will give lots of peace to the shepherd when he takes his leave – the Pope explains – is remembering he was never a compromising shepherd”, he knows that “he did not lead the Church with compromises. He did not shy away”. In addition, the shepherd is “forced by the Spirit”, he knows that “he is walking” and he “goes on, because he has nothing of his own, he did not embezzle his flock. He served” and still does, always with “his heart open to God’s voice”. The last trait of the true shepherd is not feeling “at the centre of the story, of the big or small story”, he is not at the centre, he is “a servant”. Francis quotes a common saying: “You die in the way that you live; you take leave in the way that you lived”. And Paul takes leave with “uncompromising freedom” and while walking. “This is how – the Pope concludes – a shepherd takes his leave”.

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