“My Father and Your Father”
Friday July 22, 2022
by Fr. David M. Knight
View readings for XXth Week of Ordinary Time, Year CII: Jeremiah 3:14-17; Canticle: Jeremiah 31:10-13; 36:6-11; Matthew 13:18-23
(For today, Feast of St. Mary Magdalen, the Gospel is John 20:1-18)
The Responsorial Verse promises that God will keep seeking out his lost sheep: “The Lord will guard us like a shepherd guarding his flock” (Jeremiah 31; see verses 10-13 and Luke 15:4).
Jeremiah 3: 14-17 describes God restoring happiness to those few of his people — “one from a city, two from a clan” — who turn back to him. As a key element in the renewal, God will provide ministers, “shepherds after my own heart, who will shepherd you wisely and prudently.”
When we read this text we automatically think of ordained ministers: priests and deacons, or of the nuns and “lay professionals” who are the working core of pastoral ministry in parishes, schools and church institutions. But this is too narrow a focus. We were all committed and consecrated to ministry when we were anointed at Baptism to be priests, prophets and “kings” (“stewards” of the kingship of Christ). The Jewish priesthood is abolished. There is only one Priest now, Jesus, and all who are “in Christ” by Baptism are “priests in the Priest.” The sacrament of Holy Orders does make a difference, but only within the one priesthood of Jesus.1
Jesus replaced previews with presence. The Jewish priests were a preview of the real presence of God acting in Jesus and acting still in the baptized. The Ark of the Covenant — of which Jeremiah says, “It shall not… be remembered or missed; nor shall another one be made” — and the Temple which replaced it were both previews of God’s presence in his new Temple, the Body of Christ risen and real in his members on earth. 2
And when God promises in the chapter from Jeremiah used for the Responsorial, “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts” he is saying that God’s ministry is moving indoors, into the heart:
Prophets and priests in the role of charismatic leaders who instruct the people in the obligations of God’s law will not be necessary in the new covenant. Yahweh will teach each individual Israelite as he taught the prophets and the priests. 3
Ministers are still necessary, but now all are ministers to each other. Jesus speaks in and through them. And his Spirit speaks to the hearers in their own hearts.4
In Christ’s body “The Lord will guard us like a shepherd guarding his flock.”
In John 20:1-18 it is significant that the risen Jesus revealed himself, not first to the “clergy and hierarchy” of the Apostles, but to Mary Magdalen, a lay woman known as a converted public sinner. To Mary Jesus said the words that made all equal “in him”: “Go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
(Matthew 13: 18-23 was treated in the reflection on Wednesday’s Gospel, above).
Initiative: Give God’s life: Be a “priest in the Priest.” Embody Christ to the body of Christ. Express his life.
1See Hebrews, chapters 6-10; 1Peter 2:9. and St. Thomas Aquinas on Hebrews 8:4: “Only Christ is the true priest, the others being only his ministers” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1994, no. 1545).
2John 2 18-22; 4: 19-24.
3Jeremiah 31:33-34; and McKenzie, Dictionary of the Bible, under “covenant.”
4Matthew 10:20; 12:32; Acts 10: 44-48; Galatians 3:2.
Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry