The Gift of Human Weakness
Friday, June 30, 2023
by Fr. David M. Knight
View readings for Friday, Week 12 Ordinary Time (A1): https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings
LECTIONARY 375 (Gn 17: 1, 9-10, 15-22; Ps 128: 1-2, 3, 4- 5; Mt 8: 1-4) The Responsorial (Psalm 128) is an encouragement both to reverence God and to hope for great things from him: “See how the Lord blesses those who fear him.” In Genesis 17: 1-22 God promises to make Abram (renamed Abraham) “the father of a host of nations.” And he promises to do this through Sarai (renamed Sarah), blessing her even more than Hagar despite her vindictiveness. He promises to give Abraham a son by her, although Abraham was ninety-nine years old and Sarah ninety! Understandably, they both laughed at the idea (Abraham in 17:17, Sarah in 18:12). So God told them to name the baby Isaac, which in Hebrew means “laughed.” Those who laugh last laugh best! This is the first example of a principle God applies regularly: “The absence of a human cause is evidence of a divine cause.” Since it was impossible for Abraham and Sarah to conceive, their child had to be a special gift of God. Sampson, Samuel, and John the Baptizer were conceived in the same way. So was Jesus, except even more so, since Mary remained a virgin. And when Jesus sent his disciples out on mission, he instructed them to go without provisions, so that it would be evident they were relying on God — not just for their physical needs, but for the fruit of their ministry. “See how the Lord blesses those who fear him” — and rely on his power, not their own. 1 Matthew 8: 1-4 is the first miracle Matthew records during Jesus’ ministry (although he refers to others 4:24), and some of its elements are typical. First, it is a response to the leper’s faith: “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” Second, it involves physical contact with Jesus (although there are exceptions to this: see 8:8): “Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him.” Third, Jesus cures without using any human means, by a simple word of command: “I do will it. Be made clean!” Finally, the physical cure is a sign of spiritual healing: “Immediately his leprosy was cleansed” (as we are of sin). Christian ministry has the same characteristics as Christ’s ministry. We try to alleviate physical and emotional distress, but as a sign of God’s love. Our ministry involves human presence to people: Jesus “touches” people in and through us, his body on earth. That is why we say with Jesus in the Eucharistic Prayer, “This is my body given up for you.” We pledge to use our bodies to give physical expression to the healing faith, hope and love within us. In this way we let Christ within us express his truth, his love to everyone we deal with. Like Christ’s words and actions, our ministry is always an expression of and invitation to faith, and only a response of faith makes it fruitful. Finally, although we use human resources, we do not rely on them, and we refuse to give them priority. Our experience is and should be: “See how the Lord blesses those who fear him.”
Initiative: Be a priest. Rely on God, not on human resources. 1 Judges 13:3; 1Samuel 1: 5-20; Luke 1:7, 34-35; Matthew 10: 9-10.
Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry