Celebrating Five years as a Catholic Bishop
Reflecting on my ministry as a Bishop , Reflecting back on my 24th June 2009 Episcopal Ordination ,“Life became even more hectic for me after that – although I realized that I had to be a ‘still point’ of prayer and calm in a busy Church and as a university professor in an even more busy world.” Fittingly I chose as my motto for my ordination words from the Last Supper: Luke 22:19“Do this in Memory of Me”
The celebration of a bishop’s ministry should not principally focus on the person of the bishop. The proper focus is God’s gift of episcopacy to the diocese; the particular bishop is always secondary to that. There are three thoughts I would like to share on this occasion:The Lord is calling The Society of St.Peter and Paul (SSPP) to be faithful to Him at a time of great social and cultural change. There are many issues that need wise solutions and we need to be ready to make our contribution towards them. We do this in a spirit of service, not as if we have all the answers. The source of our ability to minister is the wisdom of Christ made available in his community. That wisdom comes from all those who are celebrating with us.
Every Bishop is called to lead the people of God entrusted to him on the path to unity and holiness. He is intimately involved in that journey himself. With all other Bishops we search for the unity and holiness that only Christ can offer. Unity will come when our quest for holiness reaches its final outcome.Our relationship with the institutions of civil society is important for human flourishing. Nothing that Christ is and stands for can do harm to human beings and we need to find ways of saying this in a credible fashion.
The celebration of our five years as a Bishop, then, is about an unfinished work that we will eventually hand on to another and which will involve everyone who belongs, in whatever way, to the Catholic community in this particular Society. Bishops come and go; the clergy, religious and lay people come and go; and yet our final service is to hand on to those who come after us what we have received in trust and as gift.I would like to put on record my gratitude to my brother Catholic Bishops, my priests and deacons, our religious sisters and brothers and all the people of the The Society of St.Peter and Paul (SSPP) for their care, love, support and prayers over the five years. The task of the Church goes on and we always rejoice in that.
In the Gospel John 17, Jesus prays ‘that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one.’ The bishop should gather his flock into unity, practising what Paul calls the ‘ministry of reconciliation.’ This is a healing ministry, overcoming division in society and in the Church, in the parishes and the diocese, and with the Universal Church.”This is not any sort of unity. It is the unity of the Triune God. The Father shares with the Son and the Spirit, everything, even complete divinity. And so the bishop is charged with building a unity that undoes inequality, which strengthens the weak, which purifies the community of domination and humiliation.
Bishops are ordained to govern. Obviously this involves a lot of administration, letter writing, meetings, taking of difficult decisions. But Christian government is ultimately at the service of the rule of God, not the rule of the bishop.In our culture of control, the Church should be an oasis of freedom, for we believe in God’s rule. The bishop’s rule, I believe, is always about opening the space for God’s rule.God’s rule works through the Holy Spirit which is poured into every member of the Body of Christ. So the bishop’s government is about helping the timid to speak up, the minority to have their word, the despised to be heard with respect and most especially those who disagree with you. It is not about control, but opening the space for God’s surprising grace. We are a teaching Church, entrusted with the great doctrines of the Trinity, the divinity of Christ.
Rt. Rev. Prof. +Kasomo Daniel
Bishop+ Kasomo Daniel is The Bishop of The Society of St. Peter and Paul (SSPP) in Kenya.http://www.societyofstpeterandpaul.org/
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