Tuesday, August 30, 2016

We Are God’s Co-Workers

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. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive wages in proportion to his labor. For we are God’s co-workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. 1 Corinthians 3:6-9

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. Luke 4:38-39


From "A Step Along the Way" By Bishop Ken Untener (Saginaw)

…We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an
opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.

With our feet firmly planted on Luke 4, Jesus is just setting out on his ministry.  The people in Nazareth go from being childish followers to traitors within less than 30 verses.  At first, they do not see Jesus as one with authority.  “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?”

But Jesus admonishes them that “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him out of childishness and into mature spirituality.” 

Jesus and Paul recognize that we do not immediately ascend to the top rung of the ladder of ministry.  We get there by passing through childhood stages (chronological childhood as well as emotional childhood which may defy our years).  At an immature level, we are only concerned with me, myself and I.  Babies need parents for food, clothing and shelter and emotional well-being.  Once we know who will be our provider, we then want to hold onto that person or persons.  We have to learn to let go and know that they will still be there when we need the providers.

The disciples want to hold onto Jesus and they do not accept his prediction of the passion even though Jesus warns them three times about what is to come. 

We see in Luke how Jesus keeps moving on.  Jesus starts small…healing Peter’s mother-in-law.  Then he moves on to healing those small groups who come to him.  Yet Jesus cannot stop there.  Jesus sets the example for our development when he tells his followers that he has to leave Capernaum.  They were still childish and holding on.  But Jesus reminded them: “To the other towns also I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God because for this purpose I have been sent.”  Just like Jesus has to leave his hometown, we have to leave our comfort zone.

Jesus tied up his entire identity in God.  He lost his human identity as Jesus of Nazareth as he accepted his responsibility as the Son of God.  The disciples, too, went through stages until they recognized Jesus as Messiah, not as the carpenter’s son.

As we turn the calendar page to September, it is hard to imagine planting in the fields as we approach the time of harvest. But planting in God’s field is a year-long occupation.  Jesus is not looking for seasonal, sometimes workers except as that is a stage to mature ministry, mature Christianity.

With all the focus on floods recently and water in today’s first reading, here is an action idea.

Brian DeRouen and his wife Kathleen run Alderson Hospitality House, a Catholic Worker (nonprofit) B&B in Alderson, West Virginia (http://www.aldersonhospitalityhouse.org/).  They offer food and comfort to friends & family visiting women incarcerated at a nearby prison. On June 23, water began flooding into their home, giving Brian just enough time to get his family, their pets, and a handful of belongings to safety. They’re raising money to repair their home and get back on their feet after this devastating flood. They have a little more than $20,000 of the $40,000 they predict will be needed to rebuild.  Won’t you help them? #WVfloodrelief #WVstrong

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