Saturday, March 26, 2011

Bishops & Epidemics

Last week we saw how the apostles set up the Church so that it would keep running after they all died. Let's look at a picture of that [I draw]. Here's Jesus...and somebody else. What's Jesus doing? Laying his hands on the other guy!  Yes, is Jesus laying hands on a monkey? No, an apostle! Yes. Remember, the Bible doesn't say whether or not Jesus laid his hands on the apostles to give them his authority; but that was the standard Old Testament way to do it. I don't want to draw all 12 apostles...which apostle do you think this one is? Peter! Yes, because Jesus changed Simon's name to...Peter, yes, and because Jesus told only Peter to...feed...his sheep! Yes. So Peter represents all 12 apostles in this picture. Now Jesus goes to heaven [Jesus is erased]. The apostles know they're going to die, so...they lay hands on other people. Yes, just like the way Paul laid his hands on Timothy and Titus, who became...shepherds! Yes, what's the church word for them, you had it last week...bishops! Yes. 

So who is this guy [I draw] with this pointy hat? A bishop. Yes, and he's got his bent stick, a crook...because...he's the shepherd! Yes, a shepherd. And the apostles get old....and...they die! Yes [apostle is erased], but it's OK, because...they made bishops. Yes, and when these bishops get old...they make more bishops! Yes, all the way down to today. And bishops also make...more bishops? No, I mean besides more bishops. Who runs our parish, the bishop? Does he run around the state every Sunday saying Mass as fast as possible in all the churches? Ha, no! So, who takes of business at the parishes? Oh, the priests! Yes, bishops make hands! Yes, and anointing.

But what about Peter? Huh? Peter got special authority from Jesus...and he made another Peter? Yes, what do we call his office? What do we call men who replace Peter? Popes? Yes, popes. But when St. Luke was writing Acts of the Apostles, was St. Peter dead yet? No. Right, he was alive and doing things that Luke wrote about. So there's nothing in there about replacing Peter in particular; it wouldn't have come up yet.

And remind me, where'd Peter get his authority? Jesus. And when Peter died, was that it? Did his authority disappear? No, they picked another pope. Yes. By the way, in Rome they don't say Pope, they say Papa [on the board]. Why is that? Because he's the father? Yes again, and because fathers have authority....trick question: what language does 'Papa' come from? Latin? Good guess. It's Greek, the Romans got it from the Greeks! But yes, the Pope is the Holy Father, the Papa. In Italy, Greece and Spain they still say papa for pope.

Time for some more Greek...what do you use to see things far away? A telescope? Yes; in Greek it's spelled like this: teleskopos [on the board] (τηλεσκόπος, fyi).  And to see very small things? A microscope! Yes; mikroskopos [under teleskopos] (μικροσκόπος, fyi). And to see out of a submarine? A periscope! Yes; periskopos [under mikroskopos] (περισκόπος, fyi). 

So what does tele mean? Far away? Yes, and mikro? Small! And peri? Up? Good guess; it means around. On subs they use the periscope to look around. And skopos? See! Yes [on the board]! My, my, geniuses at work; how'd y'all learn all this Greek? We're smart! Uh-huh.

What's an epidemic [on the board] (επιδημία, epidimia)? When everybody gets sick! Yes. Epi-demic is Greek for over-people [over goes under epi]. It's a disease that's over all the people.

Now I write epi-skopos [under Papa] (επίσκοπος, fyi).

OK, what's epi mean again? Over! And skopos? To see! And if someone is an epi-skopos what are they? over-seer? Yes, genius! [overseer goes next to episkopos] And is an overseer a monkey that gets told what to do? No, he's the boss, he tells the monkeys what to do!  Yes. An episkopos, an overseer, is someone who is in charge. Who's in charge of our diocese, all the Catholics in South Carolina? Bishop Macaroni! That's very funny, his name is Guglielmone, goo-lyel-MO-neh. It's Italian. But we're not talking about Italian tonight, we're talking about...Greek! That's right.

Now watch the magic finger [I erase episkopos down to piskop]; how do we say episkopos in English? Umm, bishop? Yes! ¿Quién aquí habla Español? Me! How do you say bishop in Spanish? Obispo?  Yep. 'Obispo' comes from episkopos, too [bishop and obispo go beside piskop]. Some Bibles say 'bishop' and some say 'overseer,' but it's the same job: being a bishop.

Y'all can see how the old word episkopos changed into the new words over 2,000 years. That's how old the office of Bishop is, about 2,000 years old. The New Testament talks about bishops a lot, and what language was the NT written in? Greek! Yep. And the Old Testament? Hebrew! Yes, mostly Hebrew; you remembered.

Bishops are so important to the church that the word bishop shows up in the New Testament six times, which shows you that there were bishops even before the Bible was finished. Now, there are Christians who go to churches that don't have bishops. They may tell you bishops aren't necessary, or are just overseers, nothing special. But appointed bishops are in the Bible, so the Bible agrees with the Church.

OK let's review a bit, who's in overall charge of feeding the sheep of Jesus' flock while he's away? The Pope! How do we say that in Greek? Papa! And who helps the Papa take care of the flock? Bishops! And what's 'bishop' mean? Overseer!  Yes. And next come what the Bible calls 'presbyters.'

I have presbyopia [on the board]; I can't see stuff close-up anymore. Presbyopia is Greek, it means old-eye. What might 'presby-' mean?  Old?  Yes, old. The Greek word for an old man, an elder, is presbyteros [on the board under 'episkopos,' restored from 'piskop'] (πρεσβύτερος, fyi). You may remember St. Paul and the apostles didn't just appoint bishops, but also elders. Presbyteros is a very old word, a few thousand years old or so. We use it all the time in English but it's changed so much we don't recognize it anymore. It's gotten shorter, look: [I rub letters out of presbyteros so that it reads presbyter--]. That's like what word? Presbyterian?  Yes. But it got even shorter: [more rubouts] pres--ter. Nowadays it's real short: pres--t...what's that word now? Is it priest?  Yes, good. So when we say 'priest' we also are saying....elder? Yes. Some Bibles will say 'presbyter;' some will say 'elder.' Hey, who's the President? Obama? Yes, where's he from, a big city....Washington? No, where's he from? Umm, Chicago? Yes, Chicago. In Chicago's government they elect elders, who are right under the mayor. They call them 'aldermen', it's just a way to say 'elder-men'. Kind of like the way our priest-elders are under the...bishop? Yes.

Now remember last week we learned from Acts that when the apostles were first setting the Church up in Jerusalem, they needed help feeding widows and orphans. They appointed men who would help them serve the tables. In Greek, the word for that kind of Church helper is diakonos [on the board under presbyteros] (διάκονος, fyi). What do we- deacons! Yes, we call them deacons. They assist at Mass, baptize, and marry people; they help the priests and bishops, just like in the apostles' day.

So these are all the offices of the Church; say 'em in English from the top: pope...bishop...priest...deacon. Yes. The Catholic Church has all of these offices, but other churches don't.

What church's name sounds like episkopos? Episcopal? Yes. Who do you think is in charge of that church? Umm...bishops? Yes. They don't accept the Pope's authority, which Jesus gave to Peter.

How about presby- Presbyterians! Yes, do they have bishops? No. Right; Presbyterian churches have elders and deacons, but not bishops and popes.

And last are churches that don't have elders but have...deacons? Yes. For example, most Baptist churches have a Board of Deacons which run each church.

So tell me, which Church has all the offices that we see Jesus and the apostles setting up in the New Testament? The Catholic Church. Yes.

class continues in the next post