In accordance with the fact that I will die someday, I must continue to die daily to myself, in the way my baptism and diaconal ordination bid me do.
Last night I attended the ordination of two deacons for our diocese. The Gospel reading had Jesus saying, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life" (St. John 12:24-25).
In his homily Bishop Wester said something that comforted me. In talking about how diaconal service is self-emptying, he said the deacon must forgo many pleasures and give up aspirations in order to serve. I needed very much to hear these words because I have been feeling a bit discouraged. It helps even more to hear them spoken by my bishop. These words also help me deal with my expectations about service and return on investment. Ministry does not operate according to the principles of market exchange. In the end, it is not the point of diaconal ministry for me get anything at all. Besides, if I have Christ I have everything. By the grace and mystery of God, I have Christ. Why me? I have no idea, except perhaps that God saw that if he can accomplish his work through me, given my weaknesses and limitations, his glory would shine through. After all, as the apostle wrote, "we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us" ( 2 Cor. 4:7). A point of serious Christian maturity is reached when you realize that you are Christ's presence in and for the world and that his light shines through the places you are broken.
Let's think about Mass in concrete terms. We receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ, he is in us, so to speak. After this we are sent forth, but sent forth to be his presence. Something mysterious happens when we grasp this- Christ's presence is more readily discerned in the people and circumstances we experience.
I am posting an early traditio by Jars of Clay, their song Jealous Kind. I love this song and album very much. When I bought it several years ago, as I am wont to do, I listened to it in order to absorb it.
While I am on the subject of gifts, I did not know until yesterday that America magazine, the premiere Catholic periodical in this country, because this year is their centennial year, is giving away free access to all on-line content during May and June. This is truly a great gift. I urge you to avail yourselves. Registration is required, but can be done very quickly. I have subscribed for quite a few years now and I cannot recommend it highly enough.