ROME (CNS) — The Gospel accounts of Jesus’ care for the poor and the downtrodden serves as a reminder for bishops of their responsibility to give their lives for their flock, said Bishop David A. Zubik of Pittsburgh.
In his homily during Mass at the Rome Basilica of St. Mary Major Nov. 25, Bishop Zubik said the day’s Gospel reading of Jesus’ observation of the widow who gave all that she had reveals Christ’s sensitivity “in his own heart” for the least of these.
“Her very example was Jesus’ charge to those who saw what happened that day — and all who would read this story in the course of now two millennia — to see its impact. What motivated the woman, the widow, was to give absolutely everything she had because of her deep love for the Lord,” he said.
Bishop Zubik was the principal celebrant and homilist at the first Mass the bishops of New Jersey and Pennsylvania celebrated during their visits “ad limina apostolorum” — to the threshold of the apostles — to report on the status of their dioceses.
The U.S. bishops’ last “ad limina” visits were eight years ago, in 2011-2012.
At St. Mary Major, the bishops celebrated Mass in the chapel that houses the Marian icon “Salus Populi Romani” (health of the Roman people).
After the Mass, the bishops walked down the stairs under the basilica’s main altar to pray before the silver reliquary that houses what tradition holds is a relic of the manger where Christ was born.
In his homily, Bishop Zubik noted the timeliness of Jesus’ message at the start of their pilgrimage.
“It seems to me that it’s most appropriate that, as you and I begin this ‘ad limina apostolorum,’ we spend a little bit of time reflecting on the action of the widow but especially on the teaching of Jesus,” the bishop said.
In Jesus’ time, he explained, the condition of widows was “mighty precarious; they didn’t have the kind of insurance plans we have today.”
Nevertheless, the Gospel reading is one of many scriptural accounts in which Jesus shows his affection for widows and others rejected by society and a reminder for his followers “of the necessity to somehow respond” to their care, Bishop Zubik said.
He also recalled that, years ago, he received a coffee table book of artwork by Dutch artist, Rien Poortvliet, that depicted moments in Jesus’ life, including the scene of the day’s Gospel reading, which “moved” him.
Bishop Zubik said he keeps the book opened to that specific artistic depiction to remind him “of the two realities of Jesus’ teaching.”
“First of all, that I (may) always strive to give everything in my heart for the sake of God’s people” and “that I never forget the important privilege and responsibility to care our mother, the church,” he said.
In a time to build, CatholicPhilly.com connects people and communities
As society emerges from the loss and separation of the pandemic, CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you join in our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103