Thursday, January 13, 2011

Partners of Christ

January 13, 2011
Thursday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

Encourage yourselves daily while it is still "today," so that none of you may grow hardened by the deceit of sin. We have become partners of Christ if only we hold the beginning of the reality firm until the end, for it is said: "Oh, that today you would hear his voice: 'Harden not your hearts as at the rebellion.'" Hebrews 3:13-15

A leper came to him (and kneeling down) begged him and said, "If you wish, you can make me clean." Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, "I do will it. Be made clean." The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean. Mark 1:40-42

Listen carefully to my instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart. This is advice from one who loves you; welcome it, and faithfully put it into practice. The labor of obedience will bring you back to one from whom you had drifted through the sloth of disobedience. This message of mine is for you, then, if you are ready to give up your own will, once and for all, and armed with the strong and noble weapons of obedience to do battle for Jesus, the Christ.

First of all, every time you begin a good work, you must pray to God most earnestly to bring it to perfection. In God's goodness, we are already counted as God's own, and therefore we should never grieve God by our evil actions. With the good gifts which are in us, we must obey God at all times that God may never become the angry parent who disinherits us, nor the dreaded one, enraged by our sins, who punishes us forever as worthless servants for refusing to follow the way to glory. Rule of St. Benedict, Prologue

What is a partner?

If we were talking in a legal sense, the concept would include two or more parties which each have responsibilities to do something in order to achieve a common end. This can be individuals, not-for-profit organizations, for-profit companies, and more. Partnership goes beyond “mere collaboration” and imposes certain agreed upon responsibilities. It goes beyond being a funder of an organization. Rather than just sending money, both parties must roll up their proverbial sleeves and get involved for the common good.

After St. Paul imposes upon us the rights and responsibilities of partnership, Jesus gives us a great example about how he holds up his end of the “contract.” The leper comes to Jesus in faith and asks to be made clean. As St. Paul tells the Hebrews and us in his letter, Jesus responds: Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched the leper, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.”

Now, Jesus imposes some responsibilities upon the now clean former leper. See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed. Unfortunately, the man did not seem to fulfill those conditions requested by his partner. So happy was he to be cured, he could not keep from singing. We can only hope he at least went to the priest and offered himself for cleansing.

The context of Paul’s message to the Hebrews is a section of the letter concentrating on the faithfulness and mercy Jesus exhibits toward us. The leper certainly has a partnership stake in faithfulness to come out from his place of exile and approach Jesus in this way. In that way he is a good partner. Does he make himself a bad partner by not following Jesus and keeping quiet? Or does he take his partnership to a new higher level by spreading the Good News even further?

How are we doing in holding up our partnership agreement sealed in the covenant of our baptism and confirmation?

This week is the anniversary of the terrible earthquake which devastated Port au Prince, Haiti. One of the organizations working extensively on that island is called Partners in Health. They have provided a special report on the progress made and the work ahead and posted it to

Take time this week to read the report. Then, as they ask, remember, reflect and respond to what you learn in this report. Attend to it with the ear of your heart.