Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Responsibility for Souls

My post yesterday included a story of a school teacher and her class in an attempt to illustrate how easily we can be distracted from what is truly important. I thought that today we could revisit this story briefly with a small twist. Let us suppose that the teacher didn't expect the clown to arrive that day and that it was the teacher's job to keep the children focused on the alarm clock until it rang. Let us further suppose that this task was given to her by her superior and that she would be held accountable if the children were not focused when the bell rang.

When we look at this same story through this lens we have an inclination as to the weighty responsibility of those charged with the care and custody of souls. This could include parents who promise at their child's baptism to raise them according to the teachings of the Church. It could include parish priests charged with tending the flock of the bishop and leading them closer to Christ or at the very least keeping them focused on Jesus. Furthermore, it would certainly include the bishop who is responsible for the souls of all the faithful in his diocese. Finally, this weighty responsibility rests on the shoulders of the Supreme pontiff, the Pope. The greater the height the heavier the weight.

In yesterday's Gospel Jesus tells us that we must be ready for His eminent return. Today, Peter asks if this message is meant for the disciples as well. Jesus answers that it is and in a far more important and difficult way. Not only must the disciples keep their own souls steadfast in the seemingly never-ending wait. They must also see to the care of the many souls entrusted to them by virtue of their office.

Jesus shows us that this responsibility is so great that if one were to fail he is to be assigned to the place with the unfaithful. Hence Saint John Chrysostom's famous saying, "The floor of hell is paved with the skulls of bishops."

In this day of individuality I often am moved to weep for my bishop. The weight upon his shoulders must be immense. Daily he must face those from the left and the right and with equal charity. He must keep his balance and perspective while constantly being assailed by often well meaning self-centered souls.

Our bishops and priests need our prayers, support, and obedience no matter how difficult it may be for us at times. God will reward us for our faithfulness to those He has placed over us, and based on how they have led us, they will be punished or rewarded. Therefore, let us be obedient but more importantly let us pour out prayers and sacrifices so that Our Lord may "put him in charge of all of his property."

FROM THE SAINTS - The power of obedience! The lake of Gennesareth had denied its fishes to Peter’s nets. A whole night in vain. Then, obedient, he lowered his net again to the water and they caught ‘a huge number of fish.’ Believe me: the miracle is repeated each day.”
St. Josemaria Escriva
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