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  • Father David M. Knight

Father David's Reflection for Saturday of Week Fifteen (Ordinary Time)

The Responsorial (Psalm 136) tells us: “His love is everlasting.” And every act of Christian ministry today

says the same thing.

In Exodus 12: 37-42 God shows his “steadfast love” by fulfilling his promise to Abram that his descendants would be brought home after four hundred years. The number “six hundred thousand” could be just a Semitic exaggeration common in Scripture, or the word for “thousand” (‘elep) can also mean “family,” which would bring the number down to about 6,000. The point, however, is not numbers but God’s fidelity. And this is what God told the Jews to celebrate annually in “a vigil to be kept for the LORD by all the Israelites throughout their generations.” This was the Passover meal, which we continue to celebrate in the Easter Vigil of Holy Saturday night. And every act of ministry that we perform for other people is an expression and embodiment of God’s steadfast love. His continuing care for people through his ministers is proof that “His love is everlasting.”[1]

Matthew 12: 14-21 underlines Jesus’ gentleness. He cannot avoid being confrontative, but when things begin to heat up he “withdraws” rather than provoke further conflict. Jesus does not seek to overcome, crush, snuff out or destroy. Whatever there is in a person that can be salvaged, he tries to salvage it. Wherever there is a spark of light or life he nurtures it to help it grow. For Jesus “victory” consists in saving, not defeating: “He will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick until he brings justice to victory. And in his name the Gentiles will hope.”[2]

Whoever ministers in Jesus’ name will always offer hope, open doors, accept people where they are and encourage them to forward motion, no matter how slight or how slow. Ministers who act “in Jesus’ name” do not fixate on what is missing in a person’s faith, observance of the laws or religious righteousness. It is the Pharisees and “teachers of the law” who ‘tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others.” But Jesus’ ministers look always to the life that is there, to the light people have, to the love they are able to live by, and build on that. They never break the thread that still attaches someone to the Church or snuff out faith by pinching off hope. The love to which they witness is unconditional; it is God’s love, a love that is willing to wait, that “will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick until he brings justice to victory.” Christian ministry proclaims, “His love is everlasting.”[3]

Initiative: Be a priest. Build on the good in people. Drive no one away.

[1] Genesis 15: 13-16.

[2] See Matthew 4:12; 12:15; 14:14; 15:21; Isaiah 42:3, quoted in Matthew 12:20.

[3] Matthew 23:4.

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