This coming Saturday, March 6, we will have the honor of Archbishop John Myers offering the 5:00 pm Mass. It is good to reflect on what a bishop is. God’s revelation of what is necessary for salvation was handed from Jesus Christ to his Apostles. So, they faithfully taught as our Lord had instructed them. To ensure that the faith was passed on to succeeding generations, Christ provided successors to them. These are the bishops whom the Apostles ordained. These bishops in turn ordained to the episcopacy other men who were called by God to so devote their lives. So, there is an unbroken line of successors to the Apostles. This insures that the truths given by Christ to the Apostles would be preserved continuously until the end of time.
Bishops “...are authentic teachers of the apostolic faith endowed with the authority of Christ.” (The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 888). Their authority must be exercised in communion with the whole Church under the guidance of the pope (ibid. 895).
Each bishop possesses the fullness of the priesthood which means that each has the power to administer all seven Sacraments. Priests are co-workers with their bishops and can administer all the Sacraments except Holy Orders (noting that a priest may not ordinarily celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation, but only with the permission of his bishop and under certain circumstances). From among all the bishops, the Holy Father chooses certain ones to head dioceses. They are called ordinaries, meaning that they have ordinary jurisdiction over specific territories. Their vocation is like that of the pope, that is, to teach, to govern, and to sanctify.
We see that God provides for us so that we are not like sheep without a shepherd. And He has provided for us very well under the care of our current ordinary, Archbishop Myers. Through his guidance over the last eight and a half years, he has been teaching and sanctifying the people of the Archdiocese which encompasses the four counties of Bergen, Hudson, Essex, and Union. He has been faithfully preserving and fostering authentic liturgy, catechetics, and spirituality. Moreover, he is solicitous of his priests, appreciative of their work, and concerned for their welfare. But, then, he has the same concern for all of us. We are fortunate for having him lead us. Like the Apostles, he cares for and loves his people—he is faithful to and loves Christ.
The Church teaches us that “...The faithful...should be closely attached to the bishop as the Church is to Jesus Christ, and as Jesus Christ is to the Father.” (Lumen Gentium 27,2). Let us do so and pray for him each day.