Wednesday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time
St. Augustine used to tell his people that being a bishop frightened him. The fear flowed from the responsibility he had to guide his diocese. He knew that God would judge him harshly if he failed to discharge his duties or if he used the episcopacy for his own gain. It goes without saying that Augustine took note of the gospel passage we read today.
In the passage today Jesus warns his apostles that they are susceptible to a stricter judgment than others. Because he has taught them himself, they can have no excuse for abusing their authority. The bishops today are the successors of those apostles with the same responsibility of guiding the Church. Priests do not share the fullness of the apostolic mandate, but they are likewise well tutored in the gospels. Both bishops and priests can expect stiff punishment if they fail to give judicious pastoral care.
Sometimes in hearing the Eucharistic Prayer we may wonder why the clergy are given special mention. Cynics might say that the reason lies in the fact that bishops and priests composed the prayers that they read. If this were the case, the clergy would be pitifully betraying the gospel they preach. No, surely it is charity that moves us to pray for bishops, priests, and deacons. They bear grave responsibility which they may fail to handle well leaving everyone in jeopardy.