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May 15, 2018

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Father David's Reflection for Thursday of Week Fourteen (Ordinary Time)

The Responsorial (Psalm 105) invites us to “Remember the marvels the Lord has done.” 

 

Two marvels that stand out in Genesis 44:18 to 45:5 are, first, that God draws good out of evil; and secondly, Joseph’s forgiveness of his brothers who sold him into slavery.

 

Joseph told his brothers. “Do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.” But providing food for the Egyptians and his family was not the most life-giving thing Joseph did; his act of forgiveness was more life-giving than anything else, because forgiveness gives life to the spirit as well as to the body — for both the forgiver and the forgiven.

 

It was easier for Joseph to forgive after he came into such good fortune in Egypt. But we know that, whatever people do to us, if we respond with faith, hope and love they cannot harm us; God will turn it to our good. We can look forward to the day we will look backward and “remember the marvels the Lord has done!” The greatest marvel is what God can accomplish through life-giving love.

 

The “culture of death,” which John Paul II warned against as a characteristic of our time and culture, values many things more than human life: prosperity; lethal vengeance on criminals; “national security” or the preservation of a particular country’s cherished way of life. Even “efficiency,” meaning a person’s ability to be productive and useful to society — in the name of which we justify abortion, euthanasia and again, the death penalty. But those sent by Jesus to be ministers of the “Gospel of life” must be able to say to every person on earth what Joseph said to his brothers: “God sent me to preserve life.” And this is impossible unless we are able to forgive without limits or restrictions — as God does. The only authentic Christian ministry is the ministry of love.[1]

 

When Jesus sends his disciples out on mission in Matthew 10: 7-15, he tells them to “Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons” — all ministries of healing, life-giving love. These were the works that gave body and credibility to their preaching: “As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’” The disciples’ “ministry of life” gave a physical dimension to the “Gospel of life.” If we don’t give life to one another in love — and offer it to every human being on earth, friends and enemies alike — there is no point in preaching at all.

 

We should consecrate ourselves to the “ministry of love” every day. It is simple. Just resolve to show love to every single person you deal with.

 

Initiative: Be a priest. Show love in every word and act all day.

 

 

 

 

 

[1] See John Paul II’s encyclical, The Gospel of Life.

 

 

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