Reflections on Lumen Gentium, Part XXIV

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24. Bishops, as successors of the apostles, receive from the Lord, to whom was given all power in heaven and on earth, the mission to teach all nations and to preach the Gospel to every creature, so that all men may attain to salvation by faith, baptism and the fulfilment of the commandments.(161) To fulfill this mission, Christ the Lord promised the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, and on Pentecost day sent the Spirit from heaven, by whose power they would be witnesses to Him before the nations and peoples and kings even to the ends of the earth.(162) And that duty, which the Lord committed to the shepherds of His people, is a true service, which in sacred literature is significantly called “diakonia” or ministry.(163)

The canonical mission of bishops can come about by legitimate customs that have not been revoked by the supreme and universal authority of the Church, or by laws made or recognized be that the authority, or directly through the successor of Peter himself; and if the latter refuses or denies apostolic communion, such bishops cannot assume any office.(38*)

161 Cf. Mt. 28:18; Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 26:17 ff.

162 Cf Acts 1:8- 2:1 ff, 9:15.

163 Cf Acts 1:17, 25; 21:19; Rom. 11:13; 1 Tim. 1:12.

(38) Cfr. Cod. luris pro Eccl. I Orient., c. 216-314: de Patriarchis; c. 324-399: de Archiepiscopis I maioribus; c. 362-391: de aliis dignitariis; in specie, c. 238 3; 216; 240; 251; 255: de Episcopis a Patriarch nominandis.

This paragraph is a very simple affirmation of our Catholic faith in the bishops as successors of the Apostles. It’s an important aspect of our faith, too often forgotten, I think, by both laypersons and bishops!

It is the power of the Holy Spirit that is the lifeblood of the Church, not the particular gifts of any particular member of the Body of Christ, however exalted or lowly. The more we remember that “it’s about Jesus and the Spirit and not about me” the better off the Church will be.

Pray for our bishops. I pray for mine. May God bless them and give them guidance in the difficult work they do, but also by inspiring in them a pastoral vision rooted in Christ as the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.

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