Pope Benedict XVI
January 8, 2012
Tuesday after Epiphany
Dear Family of Mary!
"Dear children, with much love and patience I strive to make your hearts like unto mine. I strive, by my example, to teach you humility, wisdom and love because I need you; I cannot do without you my children. According to God's will I am choosing you, by His strength I am strengthening you. Therefore, my children, do not be afraid to open your hearts to me. I will give them to my Son and in return, He will give you the gift of divine peace. You will carry it to all those whom you meet, you will witness God's love with your life and you will give the gift of my Son through yourselves. Through reconciliation, fasting and prayer, I will lead you. Immeasurable is my love. Do not be afraid. My children, pray for the shepherds. May your lips be shut to every judgment, because do not forget that my Son has chosen them and only He has the right to judge. Thank you."(January 2, 2013)
Our Lady again gives us stern advice as to how we should relate to our Bishops and priests. She wants us to pray for them and refrain from all judgment. She wants us to support them with our love and our prayer, because they are on the front lines for us. They stand up for us and protect us with their pastoral authority and their courage to witness the faith to the wider culture.
Pope Benedict XVI gave a homily on Epiphany Sunday, in which he spoke movingly about the role of Bishop. His words help us to understand why Our Lady wants us to pray for and respect our Bishops:
How can we not think, in this context, of the task of a Bishop in our own time? The humility of faith, of sharing the faith of the Church of every age, will constantly be in conflict with the prevailing wisdom of those who cling to what seems certain. Anyone who lives and proclaims the faith of the Church is on many points out of step with the prevalent way of thinking, even in our own day. Today's regnant agnosticism has its own dogmas and is extremely intolerant regarding anything that would question it and the criteria it employs. Therefore the courage to contradict the prevailing mindset is particularly urgent for a Bishop today. He must be courageous. And this courage or forcefulness does not consist in striking out or in acting aggressively, but rather in allowing oneself to be struck and to be steadfast before the principles of the prevalent way of thinking. The courage to stand firm in the truth is unavoidably demanded of those whom the Lord sends like sheep among wolves. "Those who fear the Lord will not be timid", says the Book of Sirach (34:16). The fear of God frees us from the fear of men. It liberates.
Here I am reminded of an episode at the very beginning of Christianity which Saint Luke recounts in the Acts of the Apostles. After the speech of Gamaliel, who advised against violence in dealing with the earliest community of believers in Jesus, the Sanhedrin summoned the Apostles and had them flogged. It then forbade them from preaching in the name of Jesus and set them free. Saint Luke continues: "As they left the council, they rejoiced that they were considered worthy to suffer dishonor for the name of Jesus. And every day... they did not cease to teach and proclaim Jesus as the Messiah" (Acts 5:40ff.). The successors of the Apostles must also expect to be repeatedly beaten, by contemporary methods, if they continue to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a way that can be heard and understood. Then they can rejoice that they have been considered worthy of suffering for him. Like the Apostles, we naturally want to convince people and in this sense to obtain their approval. Naturally, we are not provocative; on the contrary we invite all to enter into the joy of that truth which shows us the way. The approval of the prevailing wisdom, however, is not the criterion to which we submit. Our criterion is the Lord himself. If we defend his cause, we will constantly gain others to the way of the Gospel. But, inevitably, we will also be beaten by those who live lives opposed to the Gospel, and then we can be grateful for having been judged worthy to share in the passion of Christ.
Thank you, dear Lord, for giving us Bishops and priests to stand up for us and speak the truth for us to this world so in need of You and Your love. May they be strengthened and blessed for this task, and may we follow them in our own way, as witnesses of the Truth. You are our Truth. We love you and long to serve You with our lives.
We long to respond to Our Lady's words:
"Therefore, my children, do not be afraid to open your hearts to me. I will give them to my Son and in return, He will give you the gift of divine peace. You will carry it to all those whom you meet, you will witness God's love with your life and you will give the gift of my Son through yourselves."
Come, Lord Jesus!
In Jesus, Mary and Joseph
©Mary TV 2013