Aspiring to be a bishop
This saying is trustworthy:
whoever aspires to the office of bishop
desires a noble task.
This passage is often the occasion for much discussion and even conflict about the proper roles and qualifications of clergy today.
Underlying these discussions and fueling the attendant conflicts is the question of power in the Church. Sadly, this is a primary focus for too many: those who want to hold onto it and those who want to grab it.
One problem is when people confuse the social and ecclesial structures of right order with personal issues of autonomy and self-esteem. (I keep thinking of a homemade video I saw of a seminarian singing “If I were a bishop ya ha deedle deedle bubba bubba deedle deedle dum”.) This is just silly. Having power over others does not make you a better person. Indeed, having power over others is more often than not a danger to one’s own salvation.
That is one of the reasons St. Paul lists so many qualifications for these positions of responsibility in the Church (orthodoxy and piety are assumed), because there are so many opportunities to fail.
Of course, all of us within the Church – each in different ways – have responsibilities: responsibilities for the spread of the Gospel and for manifesting the love of Christ.
That is why these ancient qualifications are relevant in varying ways for all of us.
Do we desire noble tasks?
Are we irreproachable?
Have we disrespected marriage or another lifetime commitment?
Are we temperate and self-controlled?
Are we decent? Are we hospitable?
Do we take opportunities to teach?
Are we addicted to alcohol, drugs, or vices?
Are we aggressive or gentle?
Are we contentious? Are we greedy?
Are we prudent with our responsibilities?
Are we actively working at growing deeper in the faith?
Do we do what we can to maintain a good reputation (without sacrificing our beliefs)?
Do we slander?
Are we faithful in everything?
As we hear in today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 101:1b-2ab,2cd-3ab,5,6), thus says the Lord:
My eyes are upon the faithful of the land,
that they may dwell with me.
He who walks in the way of integrity
shall be in my service.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, be merciful to me – a sinner.