FOR REFLECTION AND DISCUSSION:
EIGHTEENTH WEEK OF THE YEAR
Weekday readings: Matthew 14:13 to 17:20: Themes: To minister is to “Feed my sheep.” Jesus nourishes us with Eucharist. He is always with us to protect us; Jesus works with any level of faith to increase it; to accept Jesus as Messiah we must accept that he saves the world through the mystery of the cross; to cling to life is to lose it; Christians fail to heal society because of our lack of faith.
To believe absolutely in Jesus giving life through our dying to self. To love Jesus by giving priority to feeding his sheep.
Our faith: How many of these statements do you believe? And live?
Matthew 14: 13-21: The touchstone of authentic ministry is following the rule that must govern every pastoral policy and decision: “If you love me, feed my sheep!”
Matthew 14: 22-36: Ministry lives by trust realized in risk and confirmed in encounter. By risking his life Peter found both himself and Jesus.
Matthew 15: 21-28: Church ministry has to be guided by policies. But policy must never prevent us from responding to faith, hope or desire in any person. “If you love me, feed my sheep” includes “other sheep” who don’t quite fit in the fold.
Matthew 16: 13-23: Jesus “guarantees” some ministries (infallible definitions, the sacraments), but not the holiness or wisdom of any minister. Peter’s first act after Jesus gave him authority to keep the Church united and faithful to his teaching was to oppose God’s way of saving the world!
To downplay the role of the laity by thinking there is something “higher” about the hierarchy or clergy is the sin of clericalism. We are all equally called and consecrated by Baptism to minister, although in different ways.
Matthew 16: 24-28: Jesus wins through defeat, gains life for us by dying, and conquers evil by loving those who do evil. If we want to join him in the ministry of saving the world we must “take up our cross” by accepting whatever suffering falls on our shoulders and loving back.
People still reject Jesus as Messiah because he calls us to endure suffering with love instead of protecting us from suffering.
17: 14-20: When the disciples asked Jesus why they were unable to heal, he said, “Because you have so little trust.” We need to ask whether we really trust in Jesus’ way of saving the world. We will not be able to heal society until we respond to evil by “loving back.”
Accept any risk to encounter the living Jesus.
Be willing to lose your life to save it and others.