The bishop's task is to pray and to proclaim the Resurrection of Jesus; if a bishop does not pray and does not announce the Gospel but is concerned with other things, God's people suffer. That’s the message Pope Francis imparted to the faithful gathered Friday for the daily morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta.
The day's Gospel (Mk 3: 13-19) indicates why Jesus chose the 12 Apostles "to be with him and to be sent out to preach and have authority to cast out demons." The 12, said Pope Francis, "are the first bishops." After the death of Judas, Matthias is elected in "the first episcopal ordination of the Church." And, the pope pointed out, "the bishops are pillars of the Church,” called to be witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus:
"We bishops have this responsibility to be witnesses: witnesses to the fact that the Lord Jesus is alive, that the Lord Jesus is risen, that the Lord Jesus walks with us, that the Lord Jesus saves us, that the Lord Jesus gave his life for us, that the Lord Jesus is our hope, that the Lord Jesus always welcomes us and forgives us. Giving witness. Our life must be this: a testimony. True witness to the Resurrection of Christ."
"The first task of a bishop is to be with Jesus in prayer. The first job of a bishop is not to prepare pastoral plans ... no, no! Prayer: this is the first task. The second task is to be a witness, that is, to preach. To preach the salvation that the Lord Jesus has brought. Two tasks that are not easy, but it is precisely these two tasks that are the strong pillars of the Church. If these columns are weakened because the bishop does not pray or prays little, forgets to pray; or because the bishop does not announce the Gospel and instead takes care of other things, the Church also weakens; it suffers. God's people suffer. Because the columns are weak."
"The Church without the bishop doesn’t work," said the pope. Therefore, we must all pray for our bishops, he concluded, as an “obligation of love, an obligation of children in reverence to the Father, an obligation of brothers so that the family remains united in its witness to Jesus Christ, living and risen."
The pope invited the faithful to pray for “us bishops, because we too are sinners; we too have weaknesses. We also have the danger of Judas: because he too had been elected as a column. We also run the risk of not praying, of doing something else instead of proclaiming the Gospel and casting out demons...Pray, so that the bishops are what Jesus desired, so that we all give witness to Jesus’ Resurrection. The people of God pray for the bishops. In every Mass we pray for the bishops. We pray for Peter, the head of the college of bishops, and we pray for our local bishop. But this is not enough: we say the name, and many times we say it out of habit, and then we go on. Pray for the bishop with your heart! Ask the Lord: Lord, take care of my bishop; take care of all the bishops, and send us bishops who are true witnesses - bishops who pray and bishops who help us through their preaching to understand the Gospel, so that we may trust that you, Lord, are alive and that you're with us."