Alleluia: True Ministry

Wednesday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time
August 31, 2022

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, both Paul and Luke talk about ministry – our loving and merciful service to one another through prayer, word, and action.

LK4_18 good news

Paul says this ministry must be humble and mutual. This is because all the good that any of us does comes from God, not from us.

What is Apollos, after all, and what is Paul?
Ministers through whom you became believers,
just as the Lord assigned each one.
I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth.
Therefore, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything,
but only God, who causes the growth.

Jesus shows us that our ministry must be immediate and practical, responding to the present needs of our sisters and brothers. You wouldn’t think Jesus had time to pay attention to Peter’s mother-in-law, but he did. Her need drew his ministry out of him.

After Jesus left the synagogue, he entered the house of Simon.
Simon’s mother-in-law was afflicted with a severe fever,
and they interceded with him about her.
He stood over her, rebuked the fever, and it left her.
She got up immediately and waited on them.

At sunset, all who had people sick with various diseases
brought them to him.
He laid his hands on each of them and cured them.

You will meet your own “Peter’s mother-in-law” today – someone whose apparent need touches your goodness. They may need a smile, an encouragement, an invitation or a gentle correction from you. They may come to you from a distance, in a request for service or funding. They may come in news story crying out for your prayers or civic action.

People can be poor in many ways.  Even the apparently free can be held captive by hidden burdens. Sometimes these burdens hide under a false bravado, impudence, indifference, or pride that make it difficult to pity their bearers. 

We will meet these people in our families, workplaces, schools and neighborhoods. 

Our response should reflect the humble and spontaneous Mercy and Love of Jesus who was always honest, respectful and kind. This is the ministry of every Christian because…

Music: Christ Has No Body Now But Yours ~ David Ogden

Poetry: The Woman – I wrote this poem about 30 years ago but I thought of it this morning when I reflected on Peter’s mother-in-law and her need for Jesus’s touch.

One bitter day in February
I sat inside a sunlit room,
offered you warm prayer and promises,
and she passed outside my window
dressed uncarefully against the wind,
steadied on a cane, though she was young.
She seemed searching for
a comfort, unavailable and undefined.

The wound of that impossibility
fell over her the way it falls
on every tender thing that cries
but is not gathered to a caring breast.
Suddenly she was a single
anguished seed of You,
fallen into all created things.

Re-entering prayer,
I wear the thought of her  
like old earth wears fresh rain.
I’ve misconstrued You,
Holy One, to whom I offer my heart
as if I were a yearning field,
Holy One, already ripe within
her barest, leanest yearning.

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