Imagine for a moment what those early disciples must have felt like as Jesus sends them out on their first mission to announce: “The reign of God is at hand.”
He sent them to prepare the towns and villages for his coming. They were to proclaim “peace” everywhere they went. And he gave them power to cure the sick. “Sending” has been the story of Christianity from the beginning. Jesus was sent by the Father. Disciples were sent forth by Jesus in today’s Gospel.
Marvelous things must have happened on their journeys because they come back overjoyed with their experience: “Even the demons are subject to us in your name.”
Jesus shares their joy, but he warns them: don’t get so caught up in the power you have that you forget that you are disciples who have been created anew by placing your faith and trust in me. I am the source of your salvation; any power you have comes from me.
St. Paul learned that early in his ministry. We hear it echoed in his letter to the Galatians: “May I never boast of anything but the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This kind of humility is key to the effectiveness of Jesus’ disciples.
Any good that we are able to do happens primarily through our cooperation with God’s grace. That is why we are urged to put our gifts at the service of the Church. Sharing our gifts for the good of one another enables us to grow, not only in our love, but in our humility.
You know that the number of priests, brothers, and sisters, who have been the professional “servers,” diminishing and it is the laity who are playing an increasing role as the second Vatican Council urged. The role of the laity in celebrating Eucharist has passed from being observers to being active participants: Lectors, Extra-ordinary Ministers Holy Communion, Ministers of Hospitality, Ushers, Ministers of Music. The locus of teaching both in the parish as Catechists and RCIA team members and in the home is increasing.
Ministries like Saint Vincent de Paul Society and Legion of Mary focus on spirituality and apostolic works.
St. Vincent de Paul Society: With SVDP charity and justice go together. Members of SVDP are not trained as social workers, as our mission is to bring the good news of Jesus to the poor. We do that by first taking care of their physical needs whether that is food, rent or clothing, but also by helping them seek a remedy for an unjust situation.
Legion of Mary: Members become instruments of the Holy Spirit through a balanced program of prayer and service. Works include door-to-door evangelization, parishioner visitation, prison ministry, visitation of the sick or aged, crowd contact, religious education, visiting the newly baptized, Pilgrim Virgin Statue rotations, and meeting the other spiritual needs of the parish community.
Under the leadership of Don Zehnder (SVDP) and Ted Slezak (Legion of Mary) we have been able to reach out, to many and bring them the experience of Jesus’ love.
You may consider being part of one or more ministries in the Parish. Because, Jesus sends us out into the world every day to announce by the way we live that the reign of God is here. We must try to bring Christ’s peace to everyone we meet and everything we do. We can do that best when we begin our day by remembering God’s presence in us and asking for the grace to live this day well as a faithful disciple.
We may often feel like lambs among wolves; Jesus told us we would. That’s all the more reason to stay focused on the presence and grace of God within us. He will give us what we need to be good news to the world around us. May we learn to boast in nothing but the cross of Jesus. From him comes the saving power of grace.