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  • Writer's pictureImmersed in Christ

Ministry as a Way of Life 

by Fr. David M. Knight


June 23, 2024

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time 

Lectionary 95 

Jb 38:1, 8-11/2 Cor 5:14-17/Mk 4:35-41  

 

 

The Majesty of God 

In Job 38:1-11 God begins to give his answer to all who question his ways. Throughout the whole book, Job is insisting that he did nothing to deserve all the calamities that fell on him. He cannot understand why he is suffering so much, since he has always lived a devout and upright life.  

 

In this Job speaks for everyone who is angry at God because God has allowed terrible suffering to come into their lives. We know that God does not send suffering to people, unless perhaps in very exceptional circumstances or when the suffering is a “last resort” effort to bring about their conversion. (And God never, ever causes others to suffer — children, for example — as a “punishment” for our sins. This is unthinkable, even though some still think it!) But God certainly does permit suffering to fall on innocent people by accidents of nature or by the sins of others. And when this occurs, people commonly turn to God with accusation, asking “Why did you let this happen to me?” In this reading God answers. 

 

God answers, essentially, by saying to Job, “What do you know about anything? Compare your wisdom and power to mine and then tell me if you should call my actions into question.”   

 

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?… Who determined its measurements… Who laid its cornerstone when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy? Or who pent up the sea behind closed doors when it leapt tumultuous out of the womb? 

 

God recalls Job to reverence. We can ask God all the questions we want, so long as we keep in mind that his answer, whatever it is, is the right one. The bottom line is, God is all Truth and all Love. The truth is that everything he does is loving. If he does not give us an answer, or if his answer does not satisfy us, we acknowledge our own ignorance and trust him. Job does in chapter 42.  

 

Majesty as Ministry 

In Mark 4:35-41 Jesus manifests such power that the disciples begin to get an inkling of his divine identity: “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” But it is power used, not to proclaim majesty, but to produce ministry. Jesus is asleep in the stern of the boat, lying on the deck like an ordinary passenger, his head on a cushion, worn out from the day’s ministry. There is nothing awesome about him. When in danger they wake him, he speaks a word and all becomes calm. (The Gospel doesn’t even say he stood up; he may have just mumbled his words half awake and gone back to sleep again!) 

 

Christians do not minister to show off. They do not make themselves the center of attention. Whatever they are doing, they remind themselves, “I am not what this is all about!” We minister as Christ, as his body on earth, living and acting by his life, when we let Jesus act with us, in us and through us. This is the only ministry that is authentically Christian. The response it evokes is not admiration for the minister but gratitude to God: “Give thanks: his love is everlasting.” 

 

Ministry “in Christ”  

2Corinthians 5:14-17 roots ministry in our identification with Christ. The mystery of our graced being is that by Baptism we were incorporated into the body of Jesus hanging on the cross. He took us into his own body, making us, with all of our sins, his own flesh. By this God “made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” When Jesus died, we died in him.  

 

“Therefore all have died.” When Jesus went down into the grave we went down into the grave also as members of his body, and our sins were annihilated in death. When Jesus rose, we rose in him to live now, not as the human beings we were before, but as the risen body of Christ.

 

In every person who is baptized Jesus rises from the dead to keep living on earth in that body, as man or woman, healthy or sick, a member of every race and nation, multiplied as the grain of wheat is multiplied when it falls into the ground to die and rise again as many grains on one stalk. So from now on, with St. Paul, “We regard no one from a human point of view.”  

 

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 

 

Jesus “died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.” If we have been baptized into Christ, it follows that “the love of Christ impels us” to spend ourselves in ministry for others. “We are convinced that Jesus died for all so that those who live might live no longer for themselves” but only to let Christ live in them and act through them to continue the salvation of the world. This was the soul of Paul’s self-identity, and it is the core of ours:  

 

It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.xl 

 

Every Christian is consecrated to ministry, because every Christian has “become Christ” by Baptism. These are St. Augustine’s words to the baptized: “We have become not only Christians, but Christ. Marvel and rejoice: we have become Christ!”

 

“In Christ” we become what Jesus is: sons and daughters of the Father, filii in Filio. His true home is our true home; we are “heirs of heaven.” “Our citizenship is in heaven.” We are “temples of the Holy Spirit.” And “in Christ,” because we have become what he is, we are “priests in the Priest,” sharing in his priesthood.

 

To live our Christian lives authentically, we have to accept our true identity: acknowledge what we have become by grace and strive to be what we are. Not to do this is to deny what we believe. 

 

By Baptism we became priests. The essential, fundamental priesthood is the priesthood we have “in Christ” by sharing in the priesthood of Jesus. Holy Orders does make a difference, consecrating and empowering to special functions. But all Christians have more priesthood in common by Baptism than the ordained have apart from them by Holy Orders. This consecrates and commits us all to ministry. 

 

“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation… see, everything has become new!” Do we choose to live by the “new” or to close our eyes in denial? 

 

Insight:  How do I feel about calling myself a priest? What does this mean to me? 


Initiative: Resolve to minister as Christ by letting Jesus express himself through you. 


Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry




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