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  • Father David M. Knight

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

The Responsorial (Psalm 37) proclaims: “The salvation of the just comes from the Lord.” We need to

remember this when our well-being seems to depend on or be threatened by what others are doing to us.

Genesis 46: 1-30 shows us how God works in and through human history, including human sins, to realize and reveal his own designs. He used the sin against Joseph to move Israel to Egypt. This eventually led to the great event of the Exodus, which became the reference point for all subsequent Jewish life and history. But at the time of this telling no one involved had any inkling of that.

Israel (Jacob) wanted to see his son alive and well before he died. This, in St. Augustine’s definition, is love: to want another to esse et bene esse: to “be and be well.” We might translate “be well” as “be everything one can be.” If this is what our love for others is, then we have the same desire for them that drew Jesus to earth: “I came that they might have life and have it to the full.”[1]

This is the goal of all Christian ministry: to help others live their lives to the full. We know that for humans the fullness of life is found only in living by grace, which is the favor of sharing in the divine life of God. A “fully human” life on the merely human level is diminished life. Ministry aims at facilitating the “salvation of the just” that “comes from the Lord.” Our salvation is to live on the level of God.

Matthew 10: 16-23 warns us that people resist being urged out of their orbit. They will accept and reward ministers who communicate what they want to hear: the shallow “good news” of all the human satisfactions religion can give: the “bargain blessings” of prosperity, success, peace of mind and divine protection that the “feel good” evangelists claim God will shower on those who profess belief in him — especially if they profess it through generous contributions! These are the pimps of religion who have made the Gospel their prostitute. One that offers a momentary sham of satisfaction that does not involve either love or commitment.

People will even listen eagerly to ministers who condemn sin, so long as these are the obvious sins against human reason and decency, such as drunkenness and debauchery, adultery and abortion. All the sins they don’t commit, or do and want to wash away in guilt. But they will turn viciously on those who urge them to go beyond the human and live by the ideals of God; to take seriously the principles Jesus proclaimed in the Sermon on the Mount: to call into question our society’s acceptance of violence (5:38-46), affluence (6:19-34), social inequality (5:42), knee-jerk litigation (5: 22-25), media manipulation and spin (5:37). They resist changes in the Church, preferring the security of law-observance to the risk of renewal and prophetic witness (5:16, 20) — all because they don’t really believe that “the salvation of the just comes from the Lord.”

Initiative: Be a priest. Be conscious of grace. Live and minister on its level.

[1] John 10:10, New American Bible, 1970.

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