Memory of the Poor

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Acts 20,17-21

From Miletus he sent for the elders of the church of Ephesus. When they arrived he addressed these words to them: 'You know what my way of life has been ever since the first day I set foot among you in Asia, how I have served the Lord in all humility, with all the sorrows and trials that came to me through the plots of the Jews. I have not hesitated to do anything that would be helpful to you; I have preached to you and instructed you both in public and in your homes, urging both Jews and Greeks to turn to God and to believe in our Lord Jesus.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

After getting off the ship, Paul has the elders from the community in Ephesus come to Miletus. With the testimony of his own life, Paul starts his farewell speech to those who will be responsible for the community, “You yourselves know how I lived among you.” The apostle is well aware that the “shepherds” need to be “examples to the flock.” Peter will write about it in his first letter, “Tend the flock of God that is in your charge, exercising the oversight, not under compulsion but willingly, as God would have you do it—not for sordid gain but eagerly. Do not lord it over those in your charge, but be examples to the flock”(1 Pet 5:2-4). Paul does not refer to his behaviour with the bishops, but rather to how he lived out the three years of ministry in Ephesus. He does not do it out of pride or self-aggrandisement, but rather to show a concrete example of shepherd. He does not start with what the shepherd should “do,” but how the shepherd should “be.” Paul synthesizes the being of the shepherd in one word: “Servant.” He says to the elders, “You yourselves know how I lived among you … serving the Lord with all humility and with tears, enduring the trials.” Paul conceives his ministry as “service to the Lord.” He does not want to refer to specific gestures that the shepherd should perform, but to his or her way of living. The entire life of the servant should be devoted to the master; thus Jesus himself lived, He who spent his life for all. Jesus presented himself as the one “gentle and humble in heart” (Mt 11:29). In this way he has showed us the way, even that of the communication of the Gospel. Indeed, gentleness opens the hearts and prepares them to listen to the Gospel and an encounter with God. In an apocryphal gospel Jesus says, “I came among you not as one who lays, but as the one who serves; and you grew in my service as people who serve.” Later, Paul will write to Timothy, “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, patient, correcting opponents with gentleness” (2 Tim 2:24-25). Humility, gentleness and affability are the characteristic of the “Lord’s servant.”