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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Reading of the Word of God

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

1 Timothy 3, 1-7

Here is a saying that you can rely on: to want to be a presiding elder is to desire a noble task.

That is why the presiding elder must have an impeccable character. Husband of one wife, he must be temperate, discreet and courteous, hospitable and a good teacher;

not a heavy drinker, nor hot-tempered, but gentle and peaceable, not avaricious,

a man who manages his own household well and brings his children up to obey him and be well-behaved:

how can any man who does not understand how to manage his own household take care of the Church of God?

He should not be a new convert, in case pride should turn his head and he incur the same condemnation as the devil.

It is also necessary that he be held in good repute by outsiders, so that he never falls into disrepute and into the devil's trap.


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

After having spoken about prayer in common, the apostle calls Timothy’s attention to care in choosing those responsible for the community. He begins by speaking of the "bishop" (literally, the "overseer"). Paul knows that such a ministry is "noble work." The bishop is called to be among the disciples "as one who serves," just as Jesus revealed himself to be at the last supper while he was washing his disciples’ feet. The presence of the episcopal ministry today defines the diocesan churches, that is the communities that gather around their bishops. This ministry that designs the various dioceses does not decrease the responsibility each disciple has to "watch" over the lives of brothers and sisters. Each disciple is called to be a "bishop" for others, to "watch" the life of the brothers and sisters and of all he/she encounters in the city. The spirit of fraternity that qualifies the community in comparison to other institutions in the world requires it. Thus if the responsibility to exercise the ministry of oversight is certainly entrusted to the person who is consecrated bishop, nevertheless all the disciples, obviously each one with the proper charism, should feel responsible for "watching" over the brothers and sisters of the community so that the Gospel may be lived and communicated. This responsibility makes of the Church a family and not a world institution with its officers. The "bishop" - but we could broaden the exhortation to all believers - in his function of guide should not forget to be first of all a good disciple, that is, a son depending totally on God. This is the meaning of being "above reproach" of which the apostle speaks. Obviously here Paul refers more to the authoritativeness of the pastor of the Church than to the sacramental structure of the sacred Order. This is first of all founded on an exemplary life: from which springs the word that changes, helps and moves hearts. The apostle requires that the "bishop" be "married only once," as if to underline faithfulness to one bond only. Moreover, he should be temperate, showing wisdom in judgment and decision. And he should be readily hospitable. Besides being apt for teaching, he should not give himself over to drink, nor should he appear to be violent or quarrelsome. His guidance should be soft and disinterested. Paul, as if to show the link between the family of God and the family of the household, requires of the bishop the same good traits as the father of the household: only the one who knows how to be a father, brother and son in the Spirit of the Gospel will be able to show the right way to the Christian fellowship of the brothers and sisters of the community. He should not be a "recent convert," considering the maturity of faith required of the one responsible as the guide. And significant is the requirement that he be "well thought of by outsiders," that is, among those who are not part of the Christian community. The spirit with which one lives in the community affects not just its members; it is itself a proclamation of the Gospel and witness to a new way of living. The "bishop," like everyone who has a responsibility and, ultimately, every believer, represents the entire community before all people; with his life beyond reproach he makes the Gospel credible and helps the community to have the goodwill of all the people, as Acts notes regarding the first Christian community.

Memory of the Poor