Today, Catholic Christians celebrate the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time.
On this day, we hear John the Baptist give his testimony about Jesus and what it was like when he was baptized.
When Jesus first came toward John at the River Jordan, John the Baptist said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. He is the one of whom I said, ‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me because he existed before me’” (John 1: 29-30). Catholic Christians are very familiar with the language of John the Baptist because we use it every time we celebrate Eucharist.
Note that John said Jesus came before him. This was obviously a divine insight, for we know from Scripture that John was born months before Jesus was born.
Then John said why Jesus submitted himself to baptism – that Jesus might become known to Israel.
Finally, John introduced the Blessed Trinity when he says, “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven and remain upon him. I did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit’” (John 1: 32-33). The “one who sent me to baptize” refers to God the Father.
Needless to say, John’s Gospel is rich in ideas from which the Church has formed its theology, or understanding, of God. These theological ideas have been passed down to us from generation to generation, so that Catholic Christians can have the same basic ideas about God.
Sometimes, however, when such ideas are passed down to us, we get incomplete information or ideas. For example, many adults I have known are astonished to learn that the Holy Spirit entered into them at their baptism. The reason they are so surprised is that as children, there was so much emphasis on the Holy Spirit coming at Confirmation, that they formed the wrong idea that Confirmation was the first time the Spirit came to them. Others were taught so strongly that baptism took away Original Sin, that all of the other functions of the sacrament were ignored.
Today, we look at how in baptism, we are made part of the “priesthood of all believers,” anointed ministers of the Catholic Church forever.
First, however, we look at a story called “Food for All” about a woman named Linda Hamilton.
In many parts of the United States, there are cards that say, “Food for All.” These cards are a convenient way for shoppers to make donations to feed hungry people.
The cards were the brainstorm of Linda Hamilton, a mother of two sons and the wife of a Southern California minister.
One day, Linda heard a sermon in her church about how just 15% of the world’s population use 85% of the world’s resources. Inspired by that message, Linda began working in inner-city churches across the United States, often to help feed hungry people. It was then that she came up with the idea for an organization called “Food for All.”
Linda reports that she and her husband often donated canned goods from the supermarket to various groups that gave food to the poor. Linda explained, however, that that did not seem to be a very efficient way to help the needy. That system seemed piecemeal, one can at a time.
One evening, as she was paying her gas bill, she noticed that the utility company had a winter assistance program. The program allowed gasoline customers to add a little bit to their bill to help those who could not pay their winter heating bills.
With this idea in mind, Linda came up with a fundraising method to help the poor get food. First, though, she had to convince grocery stores that this was a good idea. The first supermarket to try it was an independent store in Redlands, California, and then a chain of Lucky Stores in California tried it. Soon, her organization called “Food for All” had cards for people to purchase in more than a thousand supermarkets nationwide.
As the funds to feed the poor grew, Linda’s nonprofit organization began giving grants to various church soup kitchens, food pantries, and international self-help hunger groups. Ten percent went for administrative costs, and all the rest went directly to food projects. Linda’s work eventually turned into a full-time job for her. Soon, hundrews of others joined her, most of them volunteers.
Food for All has raised millions of dollars for worthy groups. What began as a simple desire to help others, turned into a major ministry that follows Jesus’ commandment to “feed the hungry.”
Like Linda, you and I are called to do ministry, and our call to ministry comes directly from our baptism. It is at our baptism that we are made anointed ministers of the Church. And just as fish swim and birds fly, ministers do ministry.
Some of our ministry is long-term – such as being a parent. Another long-term ministry is that of our occupation. But sometimes, our ministries are fleeting, occurring only when a special need arises. A great example of this would be a Scout who walks an old person across a busy city street so the elderly one will be safe.
As we continue our life journeys this week, it would be a good idea to reflect on our own ministries. What kind of ministries do we have? How are we doing with them?
And that is the good news I have for you on this Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2017.
Story source: Anonymous, “Food for All,” in Friends in Deed: Stories about Acts of
Kindness: A Guideposts Book, Nashville: Dimensions for Living, 1989, pp. 120-121.