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  • Writer's pictureImmersed in Christ

Thy Kingdom Come

by Fr. David M. Knight


June 5, 2024: Wednesday of the Ninth Week of Ordinary Time

Memorial of Saint Boniface, Bishop and Martyr

Lectionary No. 355

2 Tm 1:1-3, 6-12/Mk 12:18-27 (355)

 

2Timothy 1:1-12: Three letters, Timothy 1 and 2, and Titus, are named “Pastoral Epistles” because they are not addressed to congregations but to pastors who minister to their communities with the special responsibility that comes from authority.


In the communities, the function of presiding (Greek: pro-istemi: “to place in front of”) or of “oversight” (Greek epi-skopeo) belonged to deacons, to presbyters (elders) or to the “episcopoi” without any appreciable difference. According to the Pastoral Epistles, wherein mention is made of the deacons in the plural, there existed but one inspector. Without enjoying the fullness of power but having received the gift of government, this “guardian” had to shepherd the flock of God by watching over its unity and its proclamation of the Gospel. The term does not have the modern meaning of bishop.


Paul, addressing the presbyters of Ephesus, calls them “bishops,” appointed by the Holy Spirit to care for the flock of which they are shepherds (Acts 20:28).... Jesus himself is called “the shepherd and bishop of souls”(1Peter 2:25).... In Titus 1:5-9 bishops are called presbyters.... There is a clear distinction between bishops and deacons, but not between bishops and presbyters. The institution of the monarchical episcopate, in which each church is governed by a single bishop, does not appear in the New Testament.[i] 


The “distinction of roles” in the Church is real, but minor. The early Church did not bother to define them clearly. We all have the same identity as Christ’s body, the same call to holiness, and the same mission. Regardless of particular functions, we must all accept as true of ourselves what Peter says of himself and of Timothy. We are all “apostles” sent “by the will of God to proclaim the promise of life in Christ Jesus.” And we should “stir into flame the gift of God” that all of us have through the imposition of hands by the bishop and presbyters at Confirmation and before that from Baptism. The mission to proclaim the Good News is given to every Christian. The sacrament of Holy Orders just specifies a particular way of contributing to the mission that is every Christian’s fundamental call and commitment, to which we re-dedicate ourselves every time we pray, “Thy Kingdom come!”


Mark 12:18-27: Jesus told the scoffers they didn’t understand either life after death or God. They were trying to talk about religion without any awareness of its mystery. We make the same mistake when we teach “doctrine” in a way that does not come out of our deep experience of God in prayer. Paul said it: Those who are “unspiritual” are “unable to understand” the mystery that underlies everything we believe.[ii]

 

Decision: Don’t be superficial. See through roles to reality.


Prayer: To you, O Lord, I lift up my eyes. (Responsorial: Psalm 123)



[i] See Introduction to 1Timothy in New American Bible Revised Edition; Leon-Dufour,S.J., Dictionary of the New Testament); and John McKenzie,S.J., Dictionary of the Bible, under “bishop/episcope.”

[ii] 1Corinthians 2:1 to 3:3.


Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry




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