Immersed in Christ: July 29, 2020
Wednesday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
also, Memorial of Saint Martha
The Responsorial Psalm gives ministers a needed foundation for hope: “God is my refuge on the day of distress” (Psalm 59).
In Jeremiah 15: 10-21 the prophet protests that he is harming no one, yet “all of them curse me.” And the reason is precisely his closeness to God: “Your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I am called by your name, O Lord.” Closeness to God sometimes means alienation from other people: “I never took pleasure in sitting in scoffers’ company; with your hand on me I held myself aloof, since you had filled me with indignation.”
God does not promise to stop the persecution; he just assures Jeremiah it can’t hurt him: “They will fight against you but they will not overcome you, because I am with you to save you and to deliver you.” This reminds us of Jesus’ promise to the disciples he sent out on mission:
You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers… and they will put some of you to death…. But not a hair of your head will perish!
Either “perish” does not mean for Jesus what it does to us, or the disciples were all bald! (Luke 21: 16-19 and see 9: 23-27).
This is the paradox of Christian ministry: the love that impels us (2Corinthians 5:14) to minister to others often excites the hostility that alienates us from them. But we don’t need to be accepted — or even to remain physically alive — to enjoy “life to the full.” We will all be perfectly one with each other at the “wedding banquet of the Lamb.” Until then, life on this earth is both an invitation and an obstacle to the perfect “peace and unity of his kingdom” (see Revelation 19: 6-9 and the Communion Rite of the Mass). Christian ministry is simultaneously a source of peace and conflict (see Luke 10: 5-6; 12: 51-53). That is why we need to keep recalling, “God is my refuge on the day of distress.”
In Matthew 13: 44-46 Jesus tells us we can only enter into the kingdom of heaven by giving “all for All.” To buy the treasure field, we need to sell all we have. For the pearl of unique beauty we must trade every pearl in our collection. Christian ministry is free (Matthew 10:8; Isaiah 55:1). But what our ministry offers costs more than anything on earth; in fact, it costs everything on earth, including life itself. But we only know how much something is worth to us by what we are willing to pay for it. We see Christ’s death as the measure of his love for us, and he made our ministry to others the measure of our love for him (Romans 5:8; 8:32; John 14:31, 21:17; 1John 3:16). We do not know God as God until we give all for the All he is.
Initiative: Be a priest. Give freely but ask all for the All you give.
View Today's Readings Here