in Ordinary Time
1 Timothy 3:14-16 Reflection:
One of the great differentiating features of our church is the claim to be ‘apostolic,’ that is, directly descended from the apostles. It is believed that the apostles ‘laid hands’ on the next generation of leaders who in turn laid hands on their successors, right down to the present day. The great example of this is of Peter, where we see the continuous line directly from Peter to the present day.
The local bishops are the successors of the apostles. They are ‘shepherds’ of their flocks and are supposed to care for the faithful with a fatherly affection. We see an example of Paul assuming this fatherly care for his flock in today’s reading. Although the letter is addressed to Timothy it would have been meant to be read to the churches where Timothy preached.
“At the moment of writing to you, I am hoping that I may be with you soon; but in case I should be delayed, I wanted you to know how people ought to behave in God’s family.” These are the opening words of today’s reading. Paul expresses a fond desire to be with the people but since he can’t be there he is telling them how to behave, much as a father would if he were going off on a journey or writing to a child at college.
Then Paul gives us the reason for his care for the people and it comes from the depth of the mystery of our religion:
“Without any doubt, the mystery of our religion is very deep indeed: He was made visible in the flesh, attested by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed to the pagans, believed in by the world, taken up in glory.”
We don’t reflect often enough on the mystery of our church, how, against all odds and in spite of continuous persecution, the church still flourishes and attracts some of the greatest minds there are. We are part of a great big family, the family of believers, our bishops are our shepherds: we should allow ourselves to enjoy being part of that family!