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  • Writer's pictureImmersed in Christ

The Promise and the Power

by Fr. David M. Knight


June 16, 2024  

Eleventh Sunday of the Year

Lectionary No. 92

 


Inventory 

The liturgy today calls us to have confidence in Jesus as Lord. In the Entrance Antiphon we pray, “Lord, hear my voice when I call… You are my help” (Psalm 27). What do you call on him for most often? What do you hope for? 


Input 

In the Opening Prayer the Church teaches us what we should pray and hope for. We ask God for help to “follow Christ” and “live according to your will.” In the Alternative Opening Prayer we get more specific. We ask God to “draw us together” in faith, and to “keep us one in the love that has sealed our lives.” We ask that hope (God’s “encouragement”) will be our “constant strength,” so that we might “live as one family the Gospel we profess.” 

The liturgy today teaches, invites and challenges us to focus on  “the unity and peace “ that the Eucharist is a sign of (Prayer After Communion). This is what we should pray for, hope for and work for as members of the Church. 

 

“Planted in the house”  

In Ezekiel 17:22-24 God says: “I will take a shoot and plant it myself… It will sprout… and bear fruit… Every winged creature will rest in the shade of its branches.” The “shoot” is first Jesus  (11: 1-9), and later the whole People of God, the Church (60: 1-22). 

The focus is first of all on God’s power: “I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do it.” Secondly, Ezekiel proclaims that this shoot will flourish, “bear fruit.” Finally, it will become a gathering place: “Every kind of bird will live … in the shade of its branches.” 

These themes are echoed in the verses of the Responsorial Psalm: “The just will flourish… grow… planted in the house of the Lord… in the courts of our God… They still bear fruit when they are old.” When we proclaim, “Lord, it is good to give thanks to you,” we are thanking him for the gift of his power and love made available to us in the Church, where we are called and empowered to  “live as one family the Gospel we profess.” 


Jesus came so that we might “have life and have it to the full.” This is the goal of ministry in the Church: to implant and nurture the divine life of God in others. Like seeds, that grow best in a garden, divine life flourishes best in the “cultivated ground” of a faith community: the Church on every level: 1. throughout the whole world (the “catholic” church), 2. localized in a diocese (the “local church”) or 3. neighborhood (the parish), or 4. in the home (the “domestic church”). We flourish and bear fruit when we  “live as one family the Gospel we profess.” 


All of us were consecrated to ministry by Baptism, when we were anointed to be “priests in the Priest” as the body of Christ. Two sacraments further specify this ministry: Matrimony consecrates a man and woman to form Christian community in the home; Holy Orders consecrates a representative of the bishop to form Christian community on the level of parish or diocese. However we exercise it, we all live out our baptismal consecration as priests by letting the divine life of God that is within us find expression in and through our physical human actions. By giving visible expression to the invisible faith, hope and love in our hearts, we let God use our bodies to communicate his divine life to others. This is ministry


Shelter in its shade  

In Mark 4:26-34  Jesus describes the “kingdom of God” as “the smallest of all the seeds on earth,” but “once it is sown it grows… and puts out big branches so that the birds of the air can shelter in its shade.” The Church is the work of God’s power that flourishes and bears fruit, and becomes a gathering place for multitudes. 

This is God’s work. Human beings must cooperate as “co-workers” with Christ, but God says about the seed of his word,  “I will plant it myself.” Regardless of the human instrument God uses, all life and growth comes from God: 

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.xxxv  

The growth is not always visible to those who minister in the Church. Jesus himself quoted the proverb, “One sows and another reaps.” But the growth is taking place. As when a planter sows, “the seed is sprouting and growing; how, he does not know. Of its own accord the land produces first the shoot, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.” The tiniest seed grows until “the birds of the air can shelter in its shade.”


Visible and invisible  

In 2Corinthians 5:6-10 Paul says what is most real is invisible. “We are always full of confidence when we remember that to live in the body means to be exiled from the Lord.” In the body we cannot see the full truth that will eventually be revealed “in the law court of Christ.” So in the body “we walk by faith, not by sight.” The “dark light of faith” is the clearest vision of truth. In ministry our confidence comes from what we see with the eyes of faith. 

 

Insight 

What encourages me to keep ministering to people? What hope do I live by? 

Initiative: 

Keep “sowing seeds” of truth and love in every dealing you have with people.  


Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry




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