Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Commentary for the 11th Sunday of Ordinary Time by Sr. Cindy Freese, OSB

Up to this point in Matthew’s Gospel, we see Jesus curing the sick, driving out demons, preaching about “the kingdom of God,” and teaching in the synagogues. In chapter ten, Jesus sends out the twelve disciples. He gives them the power to do what he has been doing, curing the sick, raising the dead, and driving out demons. Jesus also tells them to proclaim “that the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” But Jesus does not tell them to go and teach, not yet. Jesus himself maintains the role of Teacher. Why?

Jesus is in the beginning phase of building a community. He is establishing the roles of the members of this community. Jesus is the cornerstone and teacher of the Christian community, which is the church. Here he is showing us one of our roles as members of that church. We, like the disciples, are to minister to others.

In his book, Imaging Redemption, David Kelsey says that “Communities of Christian faith are called to minister.” This Christian ministry is, “in the root sense of the word, the ministry of comfort, a word that derives from the Latin” word meaning “to strengthen.” To minister is to “strengthen” and “empower” people to cope with the situations of life, like illness, poverty, loneliness, and natural disasters, such as flooding.  

Just as we receive the power of Christ to minister to others, we have to have been recipients of that healing power ourselves. (The admonishment “Physician heal thy self” is the crux of the ministerial relationship). As Benedictines we call this conversion.

Addressing a group of religious teachers, Evelyn Underhill puts it this way, “only the supernatural virtues of faith, hope and charity can help you to train and to keep your pupils in the Christian life.” We can continue in our own ministry and Christian life, as long as we have the virtues of faith, hope and charity – keeping Jesus as our Teacher.

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