Father David's Reflection for Monday of Week Eighteen (Ordinary Time)
The Responsorial (Psalm 81) urges: “Sing with joy to God our help.”
Numbers 11: 4-15 shows us Moses wishing God had never called him to ministry. Unable to satisfy the people’s demands, he cried out to God: “I am not able to carry all this people alone…. If this is the way you are going to treat me, put me to death….”
God was actually providing for the people with manna from heaven. But they had grown tired of it. They wanted meat and vegetables — a legitimate desire in itself, but pretty ungrateful under the circumstances. God was saving them from slavery and feeding them miraculously in the desert! But isn’t it true that when things go wrong we too tend to forget all the things God is doing for us and focus on the one prayer he seems to be ignoring? That is why it is important to recall and celebrate the reasons we have for being grateful: “Sing with joy to God our help”
To encourage people to celebrate is an important act of ministry. When the psalmist felt sad he remembered how he “went with the throng, and led them in procession to the house of God, with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving…” If we help each other to celebrate with joy and enthusiasm — at Mass, for example — we strengthen each other’s faith, hope and appreciation for God. This is mutual ministry.
We introduce every Eucharistic Prayer with the conclusion of the Preface: “Holy, holy, holy Lord... heaven and earth are full of your glory.” If we proclaim this personally with attention to the words, we will grow in gratitude to God. And help others.
Matthew 14: 22-36 (alternate): There may have been a touch of self-seeking in Peter’s request to walk on the water. Maybe he thought it would prove something if he had enough faith to do that. It was still heroic faith and love, because, like Abraham leaving everything with faith in God’s promise, he was willing to risk his life to go to Jesus and see if he was real. And any self-esteem he found in walking on water was quickly frightened out of him. As the danger he was in came home to him, his “faith in his faith” weakened and he began to sink. Then he put faith in Jesus alone and was saved.
Some self-seeking is inevitable in ministry. We do, at times, see people coming to life as we give them love, even in small ways, like a smile and a friendly word at the check-out counter. But more often, even when we are fruitful, we have an overwhelming sense of our helplessness. We feel ourselves sinking in the hopelessness of a situation and of our own inadequacy. Ministry will incite us to call out constantly to Jesus, “Lord, save me — and those I am trying to save.” And Jesus will “stretch out his hand.” After all, the whole point of the Gospel story is that Jesus is with us always, even when he seems as unreal as a ghost.
Initiative: Be a priest. Don’t add up your triumphs. Look up to Jesus.
 See Psalm 42.