Immersed in Christ: August 11, 2020
TUESDAY of the NINETEENTH WEEK in Ordinary Time
Do not forget the poor, O Lord.
(Responsorial: Psalm 10)
In Ezekiel 2:8 to 3:4 God gave Ezekiel “a written scroll” and said to him, “Eat this scroll that I give you.” And in his mouth “it was as sweet as honey.”
Ezekiel doesn’t tell us what was in the scroll; just the reaction it produced in him. This should tell us that, abstracting from the words we read in any particular passage of Scripture, whatever they say, we should find them “sweet as honey.”
God’s words, whether they speak of sin and death, pain and calamity, or of God’s love and goodness to us, are always words of life and love. That has to be our conviction as we read them.
And in our ministry to others, regardless of what we have to say, we must keep in mind that the Jesus who speaks through us is always “gentle and humble in heart....” and that his “yoke is always easy,” and his “burden always light.” At least compared to any alternative.
Our job, as his ministers, is to make it so, to the best of our ability. It is the “scribes and Pharisees” who “tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others.”
And who are the “scribes and Pharisees” today? They are those official, recognized and approved teachers of religion and staunch defenders of the “laws of the Church” who, by being fundamentalists in doctrine and legalists in practice, are driving people out of the Church every day. When we see that happening, we know they have missed the true “taste” of the word of God. 1
There is no virtue in accepting all ministers as trustworthy, any more than there is in trusting all bankers, doctors and elected officials. We usually ask around. With ministers Jesus gave us a “litmus test”: “By their fruits you will know them.” Saint Paul specifies: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” That is what to look for. 2
In Matthew 18:1-14 Jesus gives two more criteria: The first is rejection of prestige and power: “Whoever becomes humble like [a little] child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
The second is concern to bring back into the warmth of the community those who have “strayed.” Jesus told Peter: “If you love me, feed my sheep.” So we look for ministers who nurture the weak and wandering. Is it “in character” with Jesus or not to re-phrase his words as: “It is not the will of your heavenly Father that a single one of these little ones should ever be denied Communion?” Will you be the one who dares?
Initiative: Don’t judge that another is in “mortal sin” unless you can swear to it.
1 See Matthew 11:29-30 and all of chapter 23. 2 Galatians 5:22-23.