CCC 861 & 862: The Bishops – successors of the apostles
I was a mass servant for a long time; almost 14 years! Within that time, I had the rare opportunity of serving countless priests, Bishops and Arch Bishops. However, there was always the thrill of serving at the Bishop’s mass; something I never understood why until of recent. And since then, I will never let a priest or a bishop pass by without asking for His blessing / grace. You want to know why?
There is a story related in Mathew 15:32-39. It essentially tells of how Jesus fed the multitude. First, He felt “pity” for the crowd, then, He asked what they had; he took it, then asked them to “sit down”. He then broke the bread; but, rather than give it to the crowd, He gave it to the Apostles! The Apostles then gave it to the crowed… To a non discerning mind, this can pass for nothing. But Christ was doing something very significant in choosing to feed the crowd only THROUGH the hands of the Apostles (the very first Bishops).
Till date, Christ still feeds his sheep, (the church), through the hands of His Apostles. And desiring to continue feeding his church, he ordained that the line of Apostles should continue for all time till the end of time. We would recall that one of His last words to St Peter (the head and representative of the apostles) was…feed my flock, (John 21:15-17). Through the millennia, this command of Christ has being carried on by the sacred order of Bishops, to whom the apostles entrusted their mission by will and testament, so as to complete and consolidate what they had begun.
We as Catholics are particularly blessed to receive directly from the hands of the Bishops who receives directly from the hands of Christ; just as the Bishops before them, to the bishop before them….till the first bishops of Christ (the Apostles), in an unbroken succession.