Thursday, January 26, 2017

Why we need bishops

Yesterday's celebration of St. Paul reminded us of the call to teach all nations,and in some ways the 20th century was the greatest century ever for evangelization. Advances in technology made it possible to truly reach out to the whole world and close the distance that separates us from one another.

Today the Church celebrates two bishops: Timothy and Titus. No one can truly study the Bible and deny that the hierarchy of the Catholic Church is biblical. From the establishment of Peter as the Rock to the establishment of bishops, presbyters,and deacons. It's all there. And perhaps in the 21st century we see why we so desperately need our bishops in particular.

If the 20th was the century in which we shrunk the globe, the 21st seems to be our century of pulling it apart. Around the globe we are seeing a rise in nationalism. Patriotism, love of country, is a fine thing; but nationalism is different.

Jesus not only called us to evangelize the whole world, but he called us to simultaneously remain one. St. Paul reiterated that call to unity in his First Letter to the Corinthians in which we are told that there is to be no division at all.

Unity among Christians must be more than simple toleration: you do your thing, we'll do ours. Jesus says that we are to be one as He and the Father are one. The unity must be real, it must be visible and active. As he told the Corinthians we must be of one mind and one purpose.

Bishops are that connective tissue. They not only hold together the parishes of their individual diocese, they link us to the universal Church. We call it the College of Bishops, whose head is the Pontiff (the bridge) that holds the entire thing together.

It would be contrary to the most basic teaching of the New Testament for any group of people to act in isolation and yet claim to be Christians. Globalization is a term that scares many people, but Christians are never guided by fear. As our world threatens to pull apart, today we not only celebrate the memorial of Timothy and Titus, but we pray for all bishops, that the bonds that hold them together as one may also help us all to be the one Church, Jesus calls us to be.