Leaders of the Church

In the contemporary time the leaders of the church are called to minister the people following the model of the ministry of Jesus. In our Church the Pope, the bishops and the priests are leaders the ones who lead and guide the people as the good shepherd. As the leaders of the church they are captured by Christ to lead God‘s people. Through the sacraments of holy orders the bishops and priests are appointed as leaders of the Church in their ordination.

The meaning of ordination is found in the word itself. It is said that being ordained means entering to an order. The term ordo in the Roman Empire referred to a defined civil body, often a governing body. The Church adopted this term to refer to a defined group of people set aside for a particular ministry.

Ordination is not primarily the conferral of special powers upon the individual but entering an order of ministry. It is said that one does not ―receive‖ an order but one ―enters― an order, a concrete group of people who are chosen and recognized by the Church for a particular ministry. Lawrence E. Mick denotes that ―Ordination is the affirmation of a leadership role in the community. Leadership can be exercised in various ways, but each of these orders exists in the Church to provide leadership and guidance for the community.

There are different ministries that each one engages to follow. Ministers in each of the orders also serve as sacraments themselves because they make Christ visible in their ministries; they also proclaim the nature of the Church. Seeing ordained ministers as sacramental symbols can help us understand what we mean by their leadership function. They are called to know and follow Jesus as they prepare to live the sacrament of the holy order, which configures them to Christ the head and shepherd, the servant and spouse of the Church.

In John 21, 15-19 shows that, even within the Johannine community itself, this reflection on the relation between Jesus the Good Shepherd and the leaders of the Christian communities as ―shepherds‖ had already begun. Jesus Christ tells his apostles about the model of the good shepherd with whom Jesus identified Himself as the Good Shepherd as we see in the Gospel of John 10:1-16.

The shepherd must be clear and direct in guiding the flock, but he must also love and be gentle in asserting what are the right and the good, in accord with God‘s law and the example of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the model of the Good Shepherd (John 10, 11) and the ministers of the Church are asked to follow and imitate him. Through this call, the Popes, bishops and priests are called to participate in his being as the Shepherd of the Church. They should strive to conform their way of shepherding to his. United in him they learn what it means to love, to love without self-interest, to love to the end. He is their ultimate measure.

The leadership of the Church was to do the work of a shepherd. Dr. Steven L. Highlander writes ―The shepherd was to lead, feed, and protect the flock. Church leaders are under-shepherds, serving the flock under the ministry of the Chief Shepherd, Jesus. They become leaders of the Church as Shepherds to minister the people of God. Their role as bishops, priests and pastors should signify the work of Jesus as the good shepherd. Leaders of the Church are chosen to be shepherds of the Community. Nicholas Cachia says ―Christ, the Shepherd of the ecclesial community, has chosen and continues to choose some to take care of his sheep while on earth.

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