Reflections for Sunday, November 9, 2014

Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
(Ezekiel 47:1-2,8-9,12; Psalm 46:2-3,5-6,8-9; 1 Corinthians 3:9-11,16-17; John 2:13-22)

The Importance of Supporting and Praying for Our Bishops

Zeal for your house will consume me. (John 2:17)

Imagine a church adorned with marble columns, bursting with colors, gold ceilings, marble floors, walls covered with New Testament scenes, a mosaic of Mary and the saints, and a seven-meter high statue of Jesus Christ. This is the Lateran Basilica in Rome.

This building isn’t just visually stunning; it has a rich history as well. As the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome, it is considered the pope’s church in his capacity as bishop of Rome. The emperor Constantine donated the land for it to Pope Melchiades around a.d. 311, and had a church built there for him. Until the construction of St. Peter’s in the sixteenth century, the popes lived in a residence built on the site as well.

Over time, the Lateran Basilica has faced many hardships. It has been sacked, damaged by more than one fire, and nearly destroyed by an earthquake. But even in these challenges, this historic church, which is a symbol for bishops everywhere, can teach us. Like the Lateran, the universal Church is both stunningly beautiful and has faced many challenges. It has been persecuted, and some of its members and leaders have made mistakes that have inflicted grievous wounds on it. Many bishops have handled their responsibilities well; some have not.

None of this should surprise us. The Church is made up of imperfect people, and bishops are no exception. Like us, they face temptation, and so they need support. As our brothers in Christ, they need our prayers, our encouragement, and the witness of our lives.

Try something different today. Write a letter or e-mail to your bishop! Tell him you’re praying for him. Rather than asking something of him, just encourage him, and lift him up to the Lord.

“Thank you, Father, for those you have called to be bishops. Bless them and protect them. Together with them, we all pray, ‘Lead us not into temptation.’ ”

(Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing us to use meditations from their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission. The Word Among Us Mass Edition contains all the Mass readings and prayers, and a meditation for each of the daily and Sunday Masses.)

Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion

  1. Today, in joy, we celebrate not just a building, but also our unity in the Church, the Body of Christ. In the first reading we hear of the life-giving water that flows from the temple of God into our parched lives. In the Church, the glorious gathering of God’s people, we receive our source of life-giving water and regeneration in the Eucharist. What steps can you take to better receive the life-giving waters of the Eucharist?
  2. The Responsorial Psalm invites us to “Come! behold the deeds of the Lord, the astounding things he has wrought on earth” (Psalm 46:9). How would you describe some of the things for which you are grateful to the Lord? How can you better express to others this gratitude in your life, and in the lives of your family and friends?
  3. In the second reading, St. Paul asks this question: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit dwells in you?” How would you answer this question? What about during the day with its many distractions? How aware are you that God Himself, and the power of the Holy Spirit, dwells in you and is available to you? What can you do to increase that awareness during the day?
  4. In the Gospel, Jesus needed to take steps to cleanse the temple of those who would defile it. We also need to take steps to cleanse our own “temple” of the things and actions that would defile us. What are some actions and motives in your life that need to be purified? What steps can you take to cooperate with the Lord in purifying these areas?
  5. Also in the Gospel, Jesus was asked for a “sign” that would validate his actions in the temple. Do you feel that you also must have external “signs” from God to validate Jesus’ actions in your life? How can you strengthen your trust and faith in Jesus, so you can better accept his actions in your life, especially when he is asking you to do something hard and difficult?
  6. The meditation reminds us of why our bishops need our support: “The Church is made up of imperfect people, and bishops are no exception. Like us, they face temptation, and so they need support. As our brothers in Christ, they need our prayers, our encouragement, and the witness of our lives.” The meditation goes on to suggest writing or e-mailing your bishop to “Tell him you’re praying for him.” What are some concrete ways you can show your support for your bishop?
  7. Take some time now to pray for your bishop, and all bishops, that they would be faithful to their service to the Lord and his Church. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.

These reflection questions are provided courtesy of The Word Among Us.