From an earthly standpoint, when one is given power, it tends to run toward a power to rule. Hence we have the saying, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” And so we have nation rising against nation. In principle, when someone is given power in the Church, it is ideally given to make a person a servant. The more power one has, the more they are responsible for being a servant. (The first shall be last and the last shall be first.) That is why we call the pope particularly in his relationship with bishops the servant of servants. And it is your bishop’s responsibility to serve you in way that best sets you up for heaven.
Unlike a priest who serves at the sufferance of is bishop, a bishop is not simply a vicar or a representative of the pope locally but rules by his own authority (within certain confines of course.) He can’t look up the chain and say, “They made me do it.” In theory, the buck stops at the chancery.
Bishops are charged to love their people as if their very own children yet the description of what that means seem to me closer to how husbands should love their wives from Ephesians 5:25 (though I think I would rather be thought his child than his spouse.) In Ephesians husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves His Church. Think how Christ loves His Church! He gives everything to her and for her benefit to make her holy. His life, His teachings, His miracles, His torture, His death, His resurrection, His inheritance, His salvation, His birthright, even His Body and Blood He give to us. Tall order husbands.
Tall order bishops!
Here are some key points from this paragraph:
ü You are sent by the Father to govern His family.
ü Be servant, not one who is served.
ü Be willing to lay down your life.
ü Have compassion on the ignorant and erring.
ü Listen to your flock as if your very own children.
ü Compel them to be involved.
ü Remember that you will be held accountable for their souls.
ü “By prayer, preaching, and all good works of charity he should be solicitous both for their welfare and for that too of those who do not belong to the unique flock, but whom he should regard as entrusted to him in the Lord.”
ü Be duty bound to preach the Gospel to all.
ü Spur the faithful onto apostolic and missionary activity.
Shwew. Is it any wonder men often turn down the job of bishop? Despite what one might think, it is not a glory job. In priest circles the phrase is, “Anybody who wants to be a bishop deserves to be one,” and that is not meant kindly.
Continuing the allusion to Ephesians, as the husband is to live up to this type of service to his spouse that Christ gives to His Church, so wife is to love her husband. What a calling! That is why they are no longer two but one. And as a bishop is to serve his people as Christ serves His Church, so the people of a diocese are to turn to their bishop in unity and cooperation. “That they may all be one,” said Jesus.