Immersed in Christ: July 27, 2020
Monday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
The Responsorial Psalm asks us: “Have you forgotten God who gave you birth?” (Deuteronomy 32: 18-21).
Jeremiah 13: 1-11 tells us what the essential is for preserving our integrity, beauty of soul and usefulness in ministry: it is closeness to God: union of mind and will, coordination of heart and action with the heart of Jesus.
God had Jeremiah buy a new loincloth and wear it around his waist for a while. Then he told him to bury it in the ground for several days. When he dug it out it was “spoiled, good for nothing.” Then the Lord said, “Just as a loincloth clings to a man’s waist, so I had intended the whole house of Judah to cling to me… to be my people, my glory, my honor and my boast. But they have not listened.”
To be the instruments of Christ in ministry to one another and to the world, the first requirement is holiness – defined here as “union with Jesus Christ,” being united with him in our understanding, desires and action. This is rooted in the mystery of grace, the mystery of our sharing in the divine life of God. We cannot minister as the body of Christ if we have have forgotten God who gave us birth as his body in Baptism:
I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:5).
In practical terms, this means our first preoccupation in becoming or training ministers should be spiritual formation. We are ready to live a “spiritual life” from the moment we realize that something is going on between ourselves and God and decide to get involved in it. Spiritual formation shows us how.
Matthew 13: 31-35 continues to teach that the operative element in ministry is God’s life in us. A mustard seed is “the smallest of all the seeds.” All it has is life. But, allowed to develop, that life will make it a tree in which the “birds of the air come and shelter.” If divine life is growing in us, we will form Christian communities in which all who seek to live the life of grace will feel at home and find a home of shelter, nourishment, mutual inspiration and love (see Psalms 84:3; 104:17). A “community” is a “common unity” of commitment expressed in ways all understand.
A Christian community is never self-enclosed, but like “leaven in the dough” works for changes within society until the whole world is transformed. Christians who have not forgotten God who gave them birth act as “leaven” at home, school and work. They minister as Christ himself to everyone on earth until society is “leavened all through.”
Initiative: Be a priest. Constantly ask Jesus to act with, in and through you.
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