things never change. Saul, the notorious persecutor of the followers of Jesus,
is called by God to preach God among the Gentiles and becomes Paul the Apostle.
He immediately goes off to preach Jesus, and the God who raised him from
the dead, without getting any authorization from the apostles in Jerusalem
to whom authority was given. Only after three years does he go to Jerusalem
to share himself and his wildly successful ministry with Peter the Rock and,
he tells us later in his letter to the Galatians (2:11-14), to chastise the
Rock for his hypocrisy. God has not changed. God still calls the followers
of Jesus to ministry in the world. The faith and courage of those followers
should mirror the fidelity of God.
God continues to call all believers to ministry in imitation of Jesus, Paul,
Martha, and Mary, and continues to gift them for their ministry. That call
is ritualized in baptism, when the God who raised Jesus from death to new
life and anointed him as Christos transforms those who would be followers
of Jesus from death through sin to new life and anoints them also as Christos
or Christ-ian. Baptism, however, is not the end point of Christian life;
it is only the beginning. Becoming Christ-ian requires more than baptism;
it requires also the living of a Christ-like life. Christ has not changed,
nor should the faith and courage of Christ-ians change.
Two recent Popes, Paul VI and John Paul II, agree that genuine Christian
ministry has an authentic secular dimension. God, they teach, has handed
over the world to women and men so that they may participate in creation,
free creation from the influence of sin, and sanctify themselves in the various
activities of society. Christ-ians are called in baptism and authorized by
God to live Christ’s gospel of neighbor-love, reconciliation, and peace in
the world. Only thus will the world ever will be saved and God glorified.
The ministry for which God anointed both Jesus and his followers has not
changed. Nor should the ministers have changed.
It is steadfast fidelity in Christ-ian faith, life, and ministry I think
of when I read today’s readings, and it is for fidelity I pray in response.
I invite all Christ-ians to join me in that prayer.