The Answer To Fear
Saturday: Seventeenth Week of the Year: July 30, 2016
Year II: Jeremiah 26:11-24; Psalm 69:15-34; Matthew 14:1-12
The Responsorial Psalm continues with Psalm 69: “Lord, in your great love, answer me.” The first reading is our last from Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 26: 11-24 opens another dimension of ministry to us: ministry to the ministers. Jeremiah “had a protector in Ahikam son of Shaphan, so he was not handed over to the people to be put to death.” We should never think everyone is opposed to our ministry.
One night the Lord said to Paul in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak…. no one will lay a hand on you to harm you, for there are many in this city who are my people 1
We need to be aware God is moving many to support us — and also of the need all Christian ministers have for support and encouragement from people. By nature our ministry arouses opposition, because it calls everyone, Christian and non-Christian alike, to a level of thought and action that is beyond the human. Jesus said:
If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world--therefore the world hates you.2
But even in the best of us something of “the world” resists the Gospel. This is why it is so important for all Christians — especially those who are trying to live out their baptismal consecration as priests through ministry — to come together “out of the world” for mutual support in community.
A Christian “community” is a “common unity” of faith and commitment that is expressed in language or symbols understood by all. To support each other, then, we must be willing to go out of our way to give expression to our faith, our hope and our love in the presence of one another. It has to be clear and unmistakable to all that they are not alone in what they believe, in the ideals they are trying to live up to, in the work they are trying to do.
The first place to do this, of course, is at Mass. We need to minister to all who are there by celebrating enthusiastically, with “full, active, conscious” participation in the mystery being expressed in words, in gestures and in song. But we also need to give more particular, personally creative expression in small-group discussions and shared prayer.
The vulnerability inherent in revealing our inner selves to others may frighten us. Matthew 14: 1-12 shows us Herod being called into a crisis of faith over John’s identity; into a crisis of hope by his fear of the crowds and of his guests’ opinions (those who trust God fear only offending him); and finally into a crisis of love when he was tempted to give murder priority over love for neighbor (and for God). He failed every test.
The perfection of ministry is found in the “perfection of love” based on faith. And there is “no greater love” than to “lay down one's life for one’s friends” with absolute hope in God’s promises.3
John’s ministry brought him death. Ours calls us to the “dying to self” involved in service and self-revelation.
Initiative: Give God’s life: Be a “priest in the Priest.” Form community through mutual self-expression.
1Acts 18: 9-10.
3John 15:13. See Hebrews 2:10; 1John 4:18.