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Ministry through the eyes of St Paul

For Paul, love was intimate union with Christ, and he manifested this love in his ministry. He did not minister to his communities in a detached manner, but became intimately involved in the lives of the people he served, and expected no reward except that of being able to offer his love to others.

Paul knew that there was a cost to his ministry, which he relates to participation in the cross of Christ; but he also knew that the cross was not the end. As Jude Winkler points out, “Like Christ, Paul was attempting to transform what had previously been a source of alienation into means of union: union with God and union with those for whose sake he was suffering.” He realized that ministry in the reign of God is other-centred to the point of total surrender.

Jesus was Paul’s primary example for his ministry, as he is for us. Jesus speaks of his ministry as the good news of the dawning of the reign of God. His whole being and his ministry are defined by his total trust in God, who is the one who commissions him and empowers him. In this trust, he is fully responsive to the will of God and to the needs of others. He reaches out in the special way to those who are alienated from society: he is the human-being who lives completely for others in solidarity especially with those who society defines as outside the social or religious structure.

 

The defining characteristic of Jesus’ ministry is service.

 

This is requirement for anyone who wants to minister in his name, as Winkler says:

The disciple is to serve those who cannot repay one’s activates through the prestige that one might gain by association with them. One is to minister to them through the power of God and not through one’s own power.

 

The ministry of Jesus can be summarized as revealing the love of God to humanity. Those who minister in his name are also mandated to share the revelation that they have received - the revelation that they are created in the image of a loving God. Jn 15: 4-5. Jesus asks us not simply to remain with him but to remain in him, in a relationship of total union in ministry.

Fr George Kolodziej sds

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