Immersed in Christ: June 24, 2020
Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist
The Responsorial Psalm, points out the way to happiness on earth as well as in heaven. “Teach me the way of your decrees, O Lord” (Psalm 119).
After Hezekiah, the next two kings “did not walk in the way of the Lord.” Then came King Josiah, who “did what was right in the sight of the Lord.” 2Kings 22:8 to 23:3 tells us that in his time the high priest Hilkiah “found the book of the law in the house of the Lord.” When it was read to Josiah he was shocked to learn how unfaithful the people were being to their covenant with God. So he gathered “all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests, the prophets, and all the people… [and] read in their hearing all the words of the book… that had been found.” He renewed the covenant, promising to keep God’s commandments “with all his heart and all his soul…. [and] all the people joined in the covenant.” In return God promised Josiah, “your eyes shall not see all the disaster that I will bring on this place” because of the infidelity of the two kings before him and the four who followed him, which brought on the Babylonian captivity foretold by Isaiah:
Days are coming when all that is in your house, and that which your ancestors have stored up until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left, says the LORD” (2Kings 20:17).
The two books of Kings are a story of fidelity to God bringing happiness, and of infidelity bringing disaster. They warn everyone with common sense to pray, “Teach me the way of your decrees, O Lord.”
In Matthew 7: 15-20 Jesus shows us how to distinguish good teachers from bad, false prophets from true: “You will be able to tell them by their fruits.” This is a key to all ministry: if people accept our ministry, it will be because they see in our lives evidence that we are united to Jesus Christ, and that he is ministering through us. Sacramental ministry is an exception; Catholics believe Jesus promised to act through these particular seven acts regardless of the sanctity or sinfulness of the minister. (The word “sacrament” means both “mystery” and “oath of commitment.” Jesus “pledged” himself to do what the sacraments express). But how much people profit from the sacraments, and how often they will want to receive them, does depend a great deal on whether or not the minister appears to have the heart and mind of Jesus.
First in priority in the formation of ministers, then, is live, personal, ongoing interaction with Jesus Christ. Union of mind and heart with him is the soul of Christian ministry. “Teach me the way of your decrees, O Lord, that I may live them.”
Initiative: Be a priest. Seek union of heart with Jesus Christ.