ROME — Bishops must follow the path set by Christ and place service above the prominence of their positions, said Bishop Andrew E. Bellisario of Juneau, Alaska.
Celebrating an early morning Mass Feb. 4 at the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome, Bellisario said such an attitude is exemplified in Pope Francis’s way of ministering without getting “caught up” in the glory of his role as bishop of Rome and head of the Catholic Church.
The pope, he said, “gives us his wonderful example in the way that he lives, the way that he dresses, the way that he preaches. He tries to celebrate the people of God’s expression and, at the (same) time, not to be so caught up in it and to be somewhat detached from it.”
Bellisario, who also serves as apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Anchorage, was the principal celebrant and homilist at the Mass the bishops of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska celebrated during their visits ad limina apostolorum — to the threshold of the apostles — to report on the status of their dioceses.
While people can marvel at “the glory of Rome” through its ancient edifices and ornate basilicas, the bishop said, “the glory of God, the glory of the Lord, didn’t take place in Rome; it took place in the backwater of the Roman Empire.”
In his homily, Bellisario reflected on the day’s Gospel reading from St. Mark, which recounted Jesus performing two miracles: Healing a woman suffering from hemorrhages and raising a little girl from the dead.
“Jesus is doing what Pope Francis is asking us: to get back to our roots, and that is service; not being served but serving the people of God and not getting caught up in things that will take us away from that,” the bishop said.
Bishops should reflect on whether they follow the example of Christ who, upon being touched by the woman with hemorrhages, stopped to speak to her. Bellisario said that while he and many bishops are often busy, the question that remains is, “Do I stop?”
“Do I stop what I’m doing and address the need that is being presented to me at that particular time?” Bellisario asked. “I think that’s an act of simplicity and it’s an act of humility and it’s one way that I can very much be more united to what Jesus did.”
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