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  • Father David M. Knight

Father David's Reflection for Wednesday of Week Fourteen (Ordinary Time)

The Responsorial (Psalm 33) calls us to trust God to provide for our needs: “Lord, let your mercy be on us, as

we place our trust in you.” God answers this prayer. But he does it through human ministers.

Genesis 41:55 to 42:24 is the story of Joseph, sold by his brothers into slavery, who became governor of Egypt. When his brothers came to him for food during the famine, not knowing who he was, Joseph was able to minister to them because of his position of authority. But we should be on guard not to identify ministry with authority.

When Jesus was asked to provide food in the desert, he first asked his disciples to find out what the people could provide. Andrew said, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” When one small boy gave what he had, however, Jesus multiplied his contribution with divine power and fed five thousand people.[1]

Ministry in the Church depends on the participation of every member.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.[2]

In Matthew 10: 1-7 Jesus chooses twelve disciples to be apostles to whom he will later give authority over the whole Church. But when he sent them out on this mission they were not ordained priests or bishops; they were lay people to whom Jesus gave, not authority in the Church, but “authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease.” That “authority” is given to us all. Today it is not often made publicly evident through miraculous healings (although this happens more often than we may suspect[3]), but it is just as real and effective as it was in the beginning. Physical healing in the ministry of Jesus was only a sign of spiritual healing. If Jesus had only cured the body he would not have been the Savior. The real work of his miracles was to show his power and his love. That is what truly heals. And we have that healing power. It is the power to love.

Our tendency — and mistake — is to assume that the main work of the Church is done through the clergy; or, by extension, through those chosen and employed to work with them in official church ministries. We forget that, important as these ministries are, they are essentially support ministries for all the laity who are sent out to do the work of the Church in the “front lines” of family and social life, business and politics. That is where people are “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” It is to these we need to minister. All the laity are sent out to do it.

Initiative: Be a priest. Don’t wait for another. Do what needs to be done.

[1] John 6: 5-13.

[2] lCorinthians 12: 4-7.

[3] See Sister Breige McKenna’s book, Miracles Do Happen. This is a deep, convincing and non-sensational admission of healings whose focus and fruit is to awaken and strengthen faith.

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