There are people who do not understand the honor and respect Catholics give the Bishops as Fathers. To understand the honor given there must be a good understanding of our Old Testament foundation. To understand the respect of Catholics for heaven is centered on our Faith in Christ and the honor do to God.
In the Old Testament, a son was to show respect to their Father as a sign of humble recognition of authority. Genesis 48:11-12 says, “Then Israel said to Joseph, ‘I never expected to see your face again, and now God has allowed me to see your descendants as well!’ Joseph removed them from his father’s knees and bowed before him with his face to the ground.”
Notice that the scripture provides that Joseph displayed honor to his Father Jacob. There is a clear distinction between the honor given by Joseph from that which the church gives to God alone. Joseph is not breaking God’s command in bowing down to graven images. He is showing respect to his Father who has given him life, who is in the image of God the Father. This is a strong Jewish foundation of showing respect and honor.
1 Kings 2:19 says, “Then Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah, and the king stood up to meet her and paid her homage. Then he sat down upon his throne, and a throne was provided for the king’s mother, who sat at his right.” Notice that Solomon paid homage meaning respect and honor, to his Mother. This did not break God’s command against bowing down to graven images and worshiping them.
Genesis 9:20 says that Ham, the father of Canaan dishonored his Father Noah in seeing him in his nakedness, because of this he was cursed to be “the lowest of slaves” to his brothers. Because Shen and Japheth honored their father Noah, they were blessed.
Abraham’s nephew, Lot, according to Genesis 19:1, reacted to the two angels by greeting them bowing down with his face to the ground. This was a greeting and honor towards the angels. Lot was not breaking the commandment of God in bowing down and worshiping graven images.
Genesis 33:3 states that Jacob bowed down seven times, until he reached his brother Esau. In this situation, Jacob was showing respect and honor to his brother.
Genesis 42:6 states, “It was Joseph, as governor of the country, who dispensed the rations to all the people. When Joseph’s brothers came and knelt down before him with their faces to the ground, he recognized them as soon as he saw them. But he concealed his own identity from them and spoke sternly to them.” This is a great example where the brothers of Joseph was honoring who they thought were the authority of Egypt not knowing this was Joseph their brother. The Son’s of Jacob did not break God’s command of worshiping graven images.
Jesus gives a story of the Lost Son who takes his inheritance and squanders it in a foriegn land. At his return to his Father’s house, the Father said, “Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him: put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet” (Luke 15:22). Here the father is restoring the Son’s inheritance.
God can choose whom he wants to fill his office. Consider the Lord speaking of his servant Eliakim, son of Hilkiah; “I will clothe him with your robe, and gird him with your sash, and give over to him your authority” (Isaiah 22:20-21).
Haggai 2:23 states, “On that day, says the Lord of hosts, I will take you, Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, my servant, says the Lord, And I will set you as a signet ring; for I have chosen you, says the Lord of hosts.”
Jeremiah 22:24 states, “As I live, says the Lord, if you, Coniah, son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, are a signet ring on my right hand, I will snatch you from it.” It is important to note that should a servant of the Lord displease him and abuse their authority, the Lord can replace the individual. This does not erase the office, but the person filling the office. He will place another in this office.
Over and over you can see the importance of the father and the respect and honor given them. This is the foundation to why Catholics recognize the ring of the Bishop. It is a ring that represents his authority as a “Father over his flock”. St. Paul writes, “I am writing you this not to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. Even if you should have countless guides to Christ, yet you do not have many fathers, for I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Therefore, I urge you, be imitators of me” (1 Corinthians 4:14-16).
The Old Testament foundation of the authority of the Father was both spiritual and physical inheritance. It comes from the blueprint of God. Ephesians 3:14-20 states, “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine, by the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen”.
This is important, God the Father chooses to share himself with his creation, as a loving Father!
The honor given to the Bishop represents the authority the Bishop has through his ordination.
This ordination is given through the authority of Jesus Christ through the Catholic Faith. Apostolic Succession is exactly the handing down of this authority down to our time through the Shephards of the Church.
The Ring, the Keys, the sandals the Sash represents the clothing in which the Lord himself gives to his priests. When you understand the tradition of the Old Testament in honoring Fathers, family members, Civil authority, this in no way brakes God’s command in worshiping graven images. Nor is the veneration of religious holy objects used in the same way. In the following film, notice Pope Pius XII and the Priest. This is a great example:
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