Immersed in Christ: August 27, 2020
THURSDAY of the TWENTY-FIRST WEEK in Ordinary Time
I will praise your name forever, Lord.
(Responsorial: Psalm 145)
1Corinthians 1:1-9 shows us the kind of Christians Paul wanted to form.
First, he wants them to see themselves as “sanctified in Christ Jesus.” From earliest childhood, every Christian should be made aware of having a mystical identity that comes from being “in Christ.” We are “sanctified” by sharing in God’s own divine life by being incorporated into Christ’s body. Nothing makes sense without the mystery of our identification with Christ.
“Called to be holy”: To be a Christian is per se to be called to holiness; really, to perfection. Vatican II taught: “All the faithful of Christ... are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity.... Every Catholic must therefore aim at Christian perfection.” It follows that “the work of ministry” is to bring every single person “to maturity, to... the full stature of Christ.” 1
For this we need to be “enriched in every way, with all discourse and all knowledge. Christian life is learning. Ministry must include forming people to be disciples, “students” of God’s mind.
“So you are not lacking in any spiritual gift”: the work of ministry is to make people aware of the “Gift of the Spirit,” and teach them to let it empower them to live lives of prophetic witness; lives that raise questions only faith can answer.
“You were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus....” Christian life is koinonia, communal sharing, which involves expressing our faith, hope and love to one another. To surrender to the Spirit by doing this is an act of baptismal priesthood.
“He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord.” We must persevere in ministry that helps others persevere as faithful stewards of the kingship of Christ, working to bring all together in unity and peace until he comes again.
Ministry that neglects to form people in any one of these ways is incomplete.
Matthew 24:42-51 focuses on our call to be “faithful, farsighted servants” to whom the Lord entrusts the care of his household, to “distribute to them their food at the proper time.” And adds, “Blessed is that servant whom the master on his arrival finds doing so.” Ministry is nourishing, nurturing, “feeding the sheep” as Jesus told Peter three times to do, “If you love me.” 2
Nothing corrupts ministry faster than forgetting that 1. the focus must be on the sheep, on their needs. And that 2. our first duty is to feed them—not to reproach, correct, govern, discipline or call them to order. Those ministries only work when the sheep are well fed.
Initiative: Until all are one with Christ
1 Church no. 40; Ecumenism no. 4; Matthew 5:48; Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians 4:11-13; Hebrews 6:1. 2 John 21:15-17.