(For the audio version of this blog, please visit: http://brothersinchristcmf.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/Mass-Blog-for-the-19th-Sunday-in-Ordinary-Time-2022.mp3)
Religious leaders of all faiths have one thing in common. Their faith. Supplies of this precious asset may vary, but an abundance has led the faithful throughout history to do strange things—from painting their doorposts with sacrificial lamb’s blood so the angel of death would pass over their home (Wis 18:6-9), to shedding the sacrificial blood of one’s own son (Heb 11:1-2, 8-19)—just because God told them to.
Catholics will read about these extreme acts of faith at Mass this Sunday and will have the opportunity to make their own profession of faith a few minutes later. Their celebrant will relate to every word, because priesthood itself is a bigger act of faith than it’s ever been. In fact priests join their brother ministers, pastors, rabbis and all other religious leaders who are doing more with less of it among those they serve, just as Jesus did more than anyone expected with just a few loaves and fish.
Many clerics are even doing blogs and podcasts like this one to reach people who don’t attend worship services as often as they used to, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article (“Annulments, Theology and Batman,” (6-21-22). One podcast, named “Clerically Speaking,” is hosted by two priests, Fathers Anthony Sciarappa and Harrison Arye, who talk about everything from serious matters like depression and anxiety to the potential salvation of a bug that drowned in holy water.
A recent episode veered into how hectic the priesthood is getting as more and more parishioners rely on fewer and fewer priests. With pastoral power being spread thin in parishes around the world, strapped pastors are sure to relate to St. Peter in this Sunday’s gospel reading (Lk 12:32-48). In it, after hearing his master speak on the dangers of letting one’s security system down and leaving themselves vulnerable to thieves, Peter asks:
“Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?” And the Lord replies… “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”
So how can faith leaders entrusted with so much in this increasingly Godless world meet that need? Fathers Anthony and Harrison commiserated on this question and got into the very important distinction between the fullness and busyness of their ministries. Both agreed that days dealing with administrative duties can frazzle them, but days leading into nights filled with ministry among the faithful puts the full in faithful. The key word here is ministry, and that entails partnership with ministers among the laity.
Our parish, St. Michael’s of Independence, Ohio, has several ministries, including this blog, which is a small part of the greater things done by lay members of the Brothers in Christ and Knights of Columbus ministries, as well as the Holy Name Altar & Rosary Society and St. Vincent de Paul. Such ministries in communities around the world help pastors rise above some of the 9 to 5 drudgery of church business so they can do more to develop the faith of those entrusted to them.
Bottom line, faith is the product of a supply chain called ministry, and it is peopled by a partnership among priests, deacons, Eucharistic Ministers and other people otherwise known as you and me.
One of the most powerful ministries in the Cleveland diocese is headed up by Deacon Lou Primozic, and it’s all about the logistics of delivering goods and services from haves to have-nots. A truck is this ministry’s tool, but is also its best ambassador. Its messaging tells the traffic sharing the roadways with it that ImInMinistry.com is itself a highway designed not only to reach those in need of services, but to help those needing to BE of service. The truck carries donations on its inside and this message on its outside:
“We are all God’s children and need to be present to one another so we can learn from one another.”
Being present for others is made possible by the power of God’s lifeblood within us. Because Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice by spilling his for us, we are now free to channel ours for others.
In Philippians ch 2 Saint Paul advises us to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling.”
This is indicative of the seriousness of our life mission, but it begs the question, if God is all good and loving, what must we fear and why do we have to “work out” anything if Christ paid the price for our salvation in advance? I have protestant friends who believe once saved, always saved. This seems to contradict the church’s teaching on salvation and the sinful nature of man and our struggles with the powers and principalities that are constantly trying to trip us up.
Why else would Jesus institute the sacrament of reconciliation if once we pledge ourselves to Him our salvation is guaranteed?
We can “work out our salvation” in a variety of ways, including our commitment to the poor and in prayers for the salvation of souls!
How are you working out yours?
People who believe that, because they are saved, they have a free ride to paradise, are missing the point of salvation. Earlier in that letter of Paul to the Philippians, Paul writes: “Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but [also] everyone for those of others. Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus.”
Living life as a time-killer to reach the Paradise we believe Christ promised and owes us is itself a waste of time. That’s why Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God is among you.” WE are his promise of salvation in the here and now. James and John, two of Christ’s disciples, also expected a seat at the table in Paradise–just for being his disciples! Jesus quickly corrected their understanding of how salvation works (Mark 10:35): “The cup that I drink, you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared.” The cup we share with Jesus is service to others. Whatever’s in that cup is up to God.
Thank You T & T…for both of YOU sharing Your efforts to keep ministering to ALL of God’s people who seek to know Him…through His sacrifice on the Cross for my sins
He gave me Salvation by His Cross & Resurrection…
Thank YOU God
Chas, thanks for helping us reinforce the message that minister is a verb as well as a noun. As a verb, it’s an action that applies to every human. It means “attend to the needs of someone.” If we’d all do that, “someone” would cover “everyone.” That someone is Jesus in us.