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  Word To Life

Sunday Scripture Readings, Oct. 20, 2013

By Sharon K. Perkins
Catholic News Service

October 20, Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Cycle C. Readings:

1) Exodus 17:8-13

Psalm 121:1-8

2) 2 Timothy 3:14-4:2

Gospel: Luke 18:1-8

During this Year of Faith, Catholics are encouraged to revisit the documents of the Second Vatican Council in the 50th year of their promulgation. The four great dogmatic and pastoral constitutions usually receive the most attention. However, one of the lesser-known council documents, the Decree on the Bishops' Pastoral Office in the Church ("Christus Dominus"), has great significance for Catholics today because it reminds us of the tremendous importance of holy and competent bishops for the ongoing life of the church, both local and universal.

Today's first reading isn't about a bishop, but in many ways it illustrates what good pastoral leadership is all about. Moses, faced with the crisis of war with the Amalekites, exercises wise leadership in delegating Joshua to choose good warriors and engage the enemy. Moses isn't in the midst of the military fray -- but he is waging the battle nonetheless, visibly supporting the people with "the staff of God" in his hand, recruiting two of his best priests to prop up his arms when he becomes weary, and seating himself on a rock in order to remain steady.

"Christus Dominus" states that bishops, "having been appointed by the Holy Spirit, are successors of the apostles as pastors of souls," and "they are sent to continue throughout the ages the work of Christ, the eternal pastor."

Like Moses, a bishop carries the "staff of God" -- the crosier -- in his hand as a symbol of his shepherding. He derives his authority and steadfastness from the "rock" of Peter, the first shepherd appointed by Jesus, and he seeks the prayers, support and practical assistance of good priests in exercising his pastoral duties.

But the epistle today reminds us of another critically important role of bishop -- that of teacher. According to "Christus Dominus," teaching is "conspicuous among the principal duties of bishops." It is the bishop who enables those he shepherds to "remain faithful to what you have learned and believed."

It was the bishops of the early church who ensured that the sacred Scriptures were preserved and would be preached for ages to come.

In following Jesus' Gospel admonition to "pray always without becoming weary," let us remember to pray for our shepherds, the bishops of the church.


Do you know anything about your local bishop, his gifts and his concerns? In what way can you support your bishop with your prayers and encouragement?


"Remain faithful to what you have learned and believed, because you know from whom you learned it." -- 2 Timothy 3:14


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