In his homily for the event, the Pope reminded the newly ordained bishops that they had become part of an uninterrupted succession of bishops going all the way back to the apostles. He stressed that they are called to continue Christ’s mission to preach the Gospel.
“It is Christ, in fact, who in the ministry of the bishop continues to preach the Gospel of salvation and to sanctify believers, through the sacraments of faith,” the Holy Father said. “Proclaim the Word on every occasion: opportune and not opportune. Admonish, rebuke, exhort with magnanimity and doctrine, keep studying.”
Pope Francis emphasized that selection as a bishop is not so much an honor as a call to service. He reflected on the Gospel of the day from the 10th chapter of Mark in which two of the apostles ask Jesus if they may be seated at his right and left hands in heaven.
“Reflect that you have been chosen among men and for men, you have been constituted – not for you, for others – in the things that concern God,” Francis explained. “‘Episcopate’ in fact is the name of a service – it is not true episcopate without service -, not of an honor, as the disciples wanted, one to the right, one to the left, since the bishop is more to serve than to dominate, according to the commandment of the Master: ‘Who is the greatest among you, become like the least’. And he who governs, like he who serves “(Lk 22,26). Serve. And with this service, you will safeguard your vocation and will be authentic shepherds in serving, not in honors, in power, in power. No, to serve, always to serve.”
The Holy Father concluded with several pieces of advice related to “closeness”:
Be “close to God in prayer,” and “pray with the heart.”
Be close to “other bishops,” and never speak ill of this brother.
Don’t “forget that priests are your closest neighbors.”
Be available to your priests like a father.
Be near to your flock, reminding them, that they too, were “taken from the flock.”