The Lenten season is an important time for bishops to reflect on their role as servants in the church, Bishop John Kinney told his fellow bishops from Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota during a morning Mass March 6 in St. Peter’s Basilica.
“I have to confess — today’s Gospel always makes me a little nervous,” the bishop said during his homily, citing the passage from Matthew in which Jesus tells his disciples to be humble instead of seeking a place of honor.
“So often as bishops, we get those places of honor,” Bishop Kinney said. “We cut in front of the line, even if it’s to get hotdish” at a parish supper. “But our call is to be servants [modeled] after the servant Jesus Christ.”
The bishops were on the third day of their weeklong “ad limina” visit to Rome. They will return to St. Peter’s Basilica later in the week to pray at the apostle’s tomb.
During his homily, Bishop Kinney said Lent is also a time to repent and begin a new life in Christ.
“We pray today for all the catechumens in our dioceses and all those who are coming into full communion with the church,” he said. “We keep them very much in our hearts.
“For the rest of us,” he added, “it’s a preparation time to do away with sin and be faithful to the Gospel. That’s why those ashes are placed on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday. We need to continue that journey.”
The Mass was celebrated at the tomb of Blessed Pope John Paul II, and Bishop Kinney recalled in the homily that he was named a bishop by Pope Paul VI and served for John Paul II’s entire pontificate.
Bishop Kinney, a former auxiliary bishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, turns 75 in June. He marked his 35th anniversary as a bishop last January.
“One of the great gifts of the ‘ad limina’ visit is our communion together with Pope Benedict XVI and also with one another as bishops in the church and to pray for the Holy Fathers that have gone on before us in our lives and in our ministries,” he said.
Following the Mass, the bishops had a full day of meetings scheduled with Vatican officials from the congregations for clergy and Catholic education and the pontifical councils for family and the laity.