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An admonition with tears in the eyes.

Acts 20. 27+.
Paul said to the elders of the church in Ephesus: For I have made known to you the saving plan of God, without concealing anything. Take care of yourselves and of the entire flock in which the Holy Spirit has made you bishops.


Be shepherds of the Church of God, redeemed by His own blood. I know that after my departure, ravenous wolves will appear among you and will not spare the flock. Even among you there will be people who will begin to speak lies in order to draw away the disciples.
Therefore be on your guard and remember that for three years, day and night, I did not cease admonishing you all with tears. Now I commend you to God and His word of grace. It can strengthen you and give you the goods intended for all saints.
I have never coveted anyone's silver, gold or clothes. You yourselves know that I earned my and my companions' living with my own hands. I have constantly given you an example of the need to constantly strive to support the weak, remembering the teaching of the Lord Jesus who said: "Happiness consists in giving rather than receiving."
Jn 17:11. Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said: Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one as we are.
When I was with them, I protected them in Your name, which You gave Me, and I protected them. Not one of them was lost, except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. Now I am returning to You, and I say this in the world so that they may be filled with my joy.
I taught them Your teaching, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but to protect them from evil.
They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to this world. Sanctify them through the truth! Your teaching is true. Just as you sent me into the world, so I also sent them into the world. I sanctify myself for them, so that they too may be sanctified in the truth.
Today, brothers and sisters, we have two dramatic texts, because they tell about two departures. Paul, having visited the church in Ephesus, an ancient community, senses that he must go to Jerusalem, and the Holy Spirit has given him signs that he will die there.
And he comes out of the community to the shore, people fall to their knees, they cry because they have become attached to him, they love him and they are moved, but he warns them to be careful about the unity of the community. So that those priests who led this community would guard the community and themselves against evil, against apostate teachings, against divisions. However, he knows that his departure is inevitable.
There is a similar scenery and atmosphere in the Gospel. When Jesus prays to God, he asks Him that the disciples remain united and that the world does not swallow them up, that they do not forget the purpose of their lives and all that Jesus did for them, because he filled them with eternal life in himself.
Both texts are quite moving, they move us deeply, because it is proof of the authentic concern of Jesus and Paul for the unity of these people and that they do not lose somewhere along the way the goal of life, which is eternal life in God. This is proof of true care, true love, and love, as we know, is shallow in our world, for example because of these shallow TV screens.
The world of the spirit, fortunately, has retained depth, depth of love and depth of care. There are no actors anymore, although there is drama, true care from another person is a rare phenomenon, because true care is care for immortality, care for eternal life, for someone not to die.
It's not about doing well for someone for a while, but about not perishing in eternity.
And what is rare, brothers and sisters, in this world is all the more valuable and all the more sought after. In our interpersonal relationships, concern for oneself, egocentrism, or pretending to care for someone, or shallow concern, only for material goods, for education, for health, or for finances, appear more often.
These are short-term concerns and sometimes even threaten happiness, because happiness is something different than having everything. Happiness is having eternal life.
We have certainly often encountered such manifestations of unhealthy or apparent care: egocentric, narcissistic, possessive, and even emotional blackmail, entrapment, manipulation, intimidation, demands, claims, pressure, and forcing compliance.
All this may appear to be caring for someone, but in reality it is either preying on someone, or possessing someone, or controlling someone for your own self-gratification, and not for someone's true good.
And good, if it deserved such a name, can only be that which is indelible or eternal. So we can only call eternal life in God good. Caring can be slavery when we care for someone in order to possess them and make them dependent.
We can even tell ourselves or someone else that it is love, but it is parasitism. By manipulating someone's sense of guilt or sense of duty, or forcing someone to behave with anger, sadness, pretending to be hurt, abandoned, disappointed, we may force someone to think that we care about them, but in fact we will be taking advantage of them.
Against the background of such sick, toxic, addictive, immature, primitive behavior, Jesus and Paul appear as fully mature characters, because they care about eternal life, they make sure that someone does not perish forever.
Jesus and Paul did not enslave anyone. Jesus says: "I am going to the Father," and yet he himself once said that a hired servant leaves the herd when he sees a wolf. So does he not care about the apostles? Jesus cares about them very much.
We heard him praying, asking the Father, begging the Father so that none of those to whom he preached the word and whom he loved would perish, so that he would not perish like a son of perdition. So it's not so much that Jesus or Paul leaves, but rather that they remove themselves to cover God the Father, to make the Heavenly Father more visible.
It happens that it is not evil, not suffering, not a bad person, not the person who rejects us, but sometimes even a person who loves us very much and can truly obscure God from us, and this would be the greatest loss.
People are children of God, and man's goal towards other people in this world is to reveal God rather than cover him, even with good. Even being good to someone can obscure God.
The care that is revealed to us in these texts is a feature of love, an active love that seeks someone's good. It does not even limit itself to seeking the good itself, but goes so far as to sacrifice, to remove oneself, to leave, even at the cost of losing the person one loves, as long as that person does not lose love itself, God himself.
Caring is caring about someone, to put it simply, but also caring about someone's purpose, meaning, and eternal survival. It is not limited to doing something today, now, ad hoc, but also thinks, feels, empathizes and prays, begs that someone will not perish and that someone may have eternal life.
Such care is true, credible, authentic, original, flowing from the love of the Holy Spirit, it is dynamic and does not remain stationary. It also testifies to the living dynamics of someone's spirit, coming out of itself, heading towards someone, or even removing itself from someone's life, so that only God can be closer to this person than even me.
In Latin, the word "care" is very close in pronunciation to the words "strive", "follow", "aim for a goal". As if this holy care had to be pursued constantly, even to death, as in the case of Jesus or Paul, as long as someone lived.
Let's see, Jesus and Paul do not run away, but head towards death, so that those to whom they preach the Word of life may have eternal life. To die for those for whom they want to sacrifice themselves, this is self-sacrificing care. Jesus says in the Gospel today that he sacrifices himself for them, and does not run away, does not leave them in this vale of tears, but sacrifices himself for them.
The non-Christian Plato said that love is the desire for immortality. But for whom? For yourself or for others? If for others, then also for yourself. If only for yourself and not for others, it is not known whether it is attainable even to the one who seeks it. Amen.
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