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  • Writer's pictureImmersed in Christ

How to Minister Well

Friday, August 11, 2023

by Fr. David M. Knight

View readings for Friday, 18th Week of Ordinary Time: LECTIONARY 411 (Dt 4: 32-40; Ps 77: 12-13, 14-15, 16, 21; Mt 16: 24-28)

Today is the feast of Saint Clare, who founded the Poor Clares, a "Second Order" of Franciscans. The Poor Clares are an enclosed (cloistered) order of nuns given to prayer and contemplation in a lifestyle of poverty. Their only apostolic work is their prayer and the witness of their lives, which serves to remind the Church that no work is truly apostolic or fruitful unless in some way it comes out of prayer and a style of life expressive of the Gospel.

What makes our lives fruitful for the Kingdom of God is our union with Christ – the surrender of our hearts and bodies to Him which lets Him work through us. To keep us conscious of this we need some contemplative monks and nuns whose lives are dedicated purely and explicitly to fostering this union of heart with God in prayer.

At the age of fifteen Clare refused a marriage arranged for her by her father, and at eighteen ran away from home to take up a lifestyle inspired by the preaching of St. Francis of Assisi. Since there were no Franciscan convents yet, Francis found her a place in a Benedictine convent near Bastia, which was promptly stormed by her father and uncles. Clare threw off her veil to show her cropped hair and refused to leave. Like many a strong-minded woman before and after her, she showed how futile physical strength is against a woman who is willing to suffer anything for what she believes in and loves.

Two Popes ran into the same determination and lost when they tried to write the Rule for the Poor Clares. The Church wound up approving the Rule Clare wrote. Clare won for her nuns the right to live without the security of any stable income and without owning any property, even in common, but simply by depending on alms from day to day. The Poor Clare life is a witness to trusting in God instead of in riches or power. God confirmed this trust when Assisi was under attack by a Moslem army fighting under Emperor Frederick II. Clare carried the Blessed Sacrament out to the walls and the invaders fled.

Reflection for today's Mass readings:

How to Minister Well The Responsorial (Psalm 77) says, “I remember the deeds of the Lord.” In Deuteronomy 4: 32-40 Moses sums up the deeds by which God showed his greatness and his favor to Israel. He wants the people to “remember the deeds of the Lord” so they can do what he told them: “Know and fix in your heart that the Lord is God in the heavens above and on the earth below, and that there is no other.” Remembering this will help them “keep his statutes and commandments... that you and your children after you may prosper….” Most of the words in the Mass are remembrances of what God has done for us, how he has acted to reveal his wisdom, his power and his love. If we fail to attend Mass, or don’t participate consciously and attentively when we do, we soon lose our awareness of what God is — both in himself and for us. Through what we remember and celebrate at Mass, the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of our Christian life. It is what sustains and guides us in all we do and in all our ministry to others. It is to the Eucharist that we bring the joys and sorrows that our interaction with others has stirred in us. And the Eucharist empowers our response to them. The Introductory Rites launch us into praise and thanksgiving. The Liturgy of the Word re-tells the stories of God’s interaction with his people, both the highs and the lows. In the Liturgy of the Eucharist at every Mass we offer ourselves with and in him for the life of the world and quote Jesus’ words, “Do this in memory of me.” Then in the Anamnesis we remember and make present the great saving deeds of his death, resurrection and ascension. In the Rite of Communion we experience a foretaste of Christ’s triumph and of the “marriage feast of the Lamb,” given to strengthen our hope and nurture our desire. At Mass each of us is able to say, “I remember the deeds of the Lord. Without this remembrance, and unless we are deeply aware of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead as a preview of our own, how could we accept what Jesus says in Matthew 16: 24-28: “Those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it”? The resurrection of the body is not some philosophical theory erected into religious belief. It is a divine promise previewed in Jesus’ own body rising from the dead. Our religion is not based on the speculation of wise men and gurus, no matter how inspired. Our religion is based on the record of what Jesus, God-made-man, actually did and is still doing in and through his human body on earth, and on the promise of what he will do: Father, calling to mind the death your Son endured for our salvation, his glorious resurrection and ascension into heaven, and ready to greet him when he comes again.... The ministry of Christians is the activity of people who have experienced the life of the risen Jesus in others acting on them from without and in themselves, acting through them for others. To minister well, we “remember the deeds of the Lord.” And continue them.

Initiative: Be a priest. Remember what Jesus did. Let him do it now in you.

Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry

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