Sunday, September 13, 2009

Pope Benedict: The Characteristics of a Good Bishop

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Pope Benedict XVI, for this first time during his papal reign, consecrated bishops in Rome recently. In his homily, he stressed the characteristics of a good bishop:

...Jesus, the Pope continued, summed up "all the many aspects of his priesthood in the one sentence: 'The Son of man came not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many people' (Mk 10, 45). Serve thus means gifting oneself; be not for oneself but for others, with God and in view of God: this is the very deepest core of the mission of Jesus Christ and, together, the true essence of his priesthood . Thus, he has made the term 'slave' his highest title of honour. With this comes an overturning of values, he has given us a new image of God and man. "

  • "The first characteristic, that the Lord requires from the slave, is fidelity. He was given a great good, which does not belong to him. The Church is not our Church, but His Church, the Church of God. The servant must account for his management of the good that has been entrusted to him. We must not bind men to us, we must not seek power, prestige, esteem for ourselves. We must lead people to Jesus Christ and thus towards the living God. With this, we introduce them to truth and the freedom that comes from the truth. Loyalty is altruism, and thus it is liberating for the minister himself and for those entrusted to him. We know how things in civil society and, not infrequently, even in the church suffer from the fact that many of those, who have been given responsibility, work for themselves and not for the community". "In Greek, the word for "loyalty" coincides with the one that indicates "faith". The fidelity of the servant of Jesus Christ consists precisely in the fact that he does not try to adapt the faith to the fashions of the time. Christ alone has words of eternal life, and these words must lead the people. They are the most precious thing we have been entrusted. Such loyalty is neither sterile nor static; it is creative. The master rebukes the servant who had hidden the goods delivered to him underground to avoid all risk. With this apparent loyalty the servant has actually set aside the good of the master, in order to devote himself exclusively to his own affairs. Fidelity is not afraid, but is inspired by love and by its dynamism”.

  • "The second characteristic that Jesus requires from the servant, is prudence”. It “is a different thing to cunning", it "indicates the primacy of truth, which means 'prudence' becomes the criterion of our actions. Prudence requires humble, disciplined and vigilant reason, that can not be blinded by prejudice, nor judges according to desires and passions, but seeks the truth - even the uncomfortable truth. Prudence means setting out in search of truth and acting on it accordingly. The wise servant is first and foremost a man of truth and a sincere man of reason".

  • The third characteristic of which Jesus speaks in the parable of the servant is goodness. "Only God is good in the full sense. He is Goodness, above all goodness, goodness in person. In a creature - man - being good is therefore necessarily based on a profound inner orientation toward God. Goodness grows inwardly to join with the living God. Goodness presupposes above all an intense communion with God, a growing interior union with Him. In fact, from who else can we learn true goodness except Him who loved us to the end, until the extreme (cf. Jn 13, 1)? We become good servants through our living relationship with Jesus Christ. Only if our lives takes place in dialogue with Him, if His being, His characteristics penetrate and mould us, can we really become good servants. . . ." Asia News

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