September 13, 2011 - Memorial of Saint John Chrysostom, bishop and doctor of the Church

Today's Readings

The office of bishop, as is clear from our first reading, requires a great deal of a man. He needs not only to be a good and holy man but also competent in many areas: in speaking and economics and management. Not every Saint would have made a good bishop. Indeed, although St. Paul requires that the bishop be a good man, he more strongly emphasizes the necessary competence.

Keeping all this in mind, we ought to pray for our bishops rather than complain about them. Of course, there is a need for accountability and some bishops have fallen very far short of the ideal, but this does not justify our being critics of bishops, considering them like a wine critic considers fine vintages, putting them under our judgment. We begin by understanding that no one can live up to the requirements of this office. If some extraordinary men come close, they are a wonderful gift to the Church, but if we see our bishops fail, we should, above all else, pray for them to do better.

It is to the bishops that the Apostles entrusted the Church, entrusted to them by the Lord Jesus. Yes, it is tragic that mere humans have the care of this precious Church, but that is what Jesus decided, and who are we to question his wisdom? Jesus left the Church after his Resurrection, trusting a small group of men, one of whom had denied him, most of whom had abandoned him, with his beloved bride, the Church.

He left the Church when he ascended into heaven, but he did not leave her alone. He sent the Holy Spirit to fill the hearts of all believers. It was the power of the Holy Spirit working through the Apostles that caused the first converts to join the Church. Above all, our prayer for our bishops should be that the Holy Spirit will come into their hearts and allow them to preach the faith in a convincing way, to heal the sick, raise the dead, provide for the poor, and be managers of the Church entrusted to them. We wish this for all people, but particularly our bishops. They are very busy, much burdened with the weight that has been put on their shoulders. No bishop has the time to pray as much as they need to, so it is very important that we pray for them.