ANCHORING SOCIAL MINISTRY: PRAYER AND WORSHIP
The most important setting for the Church’s social teaching is not in a food pantry or in a legislative committee room, but in prayer and worship, especially gathered around the altar for the Eucharist. It is in the liturgy that we find the fundamental direction, motivation, and strength for social ministry. Social ministry not genuinely rooted in prayer can easily burn itself out. On the other hand, worship that does not reflect the Lord’s call to conversion, service, and justice can become pious ritual and empty of the gospel.
We support new efforts to integrate liturgy and justice, to make clear that we are one people united in faith, worship, and works of charity and justice. We need to be a Church that helps believers recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread and those without bread. Eucharist, penance, confirmation, and the other sacraments have essential social dimensions that ought to be appropriately reflected in how we celebrate, preach, and pray. Those who plan and preside at our worship can help the parish community understand more clearly the spiritual and scriptural roots of our pursuit of justice without distorting or imposing on the liturgy.
Our social ministry must be anchored in prayer, where we uncover the depths of God’s call to seek justice and pursue peace. In personal prayer, the reading of the Scriptures, and quiet reflection on the Christian vocation, we discover the social mission of every believer. In serving those in need, we serve the Lord. In seeking justice and peace, we witness to the reign of God in our midst. In prayer, we find the reasons, the strength, and the call to follow Jesus in the ways of charity, justice, and peace.Our social ministry must be anchored in prayer, where we uncover the depths of God’s call to seek justice and pursue peace. In personal prayer, the reading of the Scriptures, and quiet reflection on the Christian vocation, we discover the social mission of every believer. In serving those in need, we serve the Lord. In seeking justice and peace, we witness to the reign of God in our midst. In prayer, we find the reasons, the strength, and the call to follow Jesus in the ways of charity, justice, and peace.
SALT AND LIGHT EASTER’S PROMISE:
LESSONS FROM THE LILIES
by Mike Nelson
Alongside our front porch is a patch of ground that we struggle to keep the weeds out of. But within that patch are plants that lie dormant for much of the year, yet spring back to life. They are our calla lilies, plants whose green shoots spring from the ground and soon produce lovely white blooms that last a few weeks. Then the flowers begin to fade. The stems falter and the calla lilies, it would seem, die . . . until the following year. Then, they reappear again to share their beauty with the world.
That bears consideration as we enter the Easter Season, a season of hope, promise, and new life.
During Holy Week, we witness Jesus' betrayal by those who had rejoiced in his presence. It is a sobering awareness of human flaws and frailty—part of the human condition that is as present today as it was in Jesus' time. And given what is going on in today's world, it would seem easier, sometimes, to retreat from the world and its problems—to hide.
But think about the calla lilies. They grow, they bloom, they wilt, they fade. But they do not die. And they do not hide. They do not worry about what is going to go wrong. They do not fret about their limited shelf life. They come out, and they bloom! They share their beauty with the world, if only for a short time.
Jesus could have shut himself off from the world and hid in his house saying, "Why bother? There are problems in the world today, and there are going to be problems if I leave my house. There will be problems after I'm gone. So what's the point?" That, of course, didn't happen. Jesus knew he would encounter challenges and obstacles, knew he would be resisted and hated, knew he personally would suffer. But he stepped forth, bringing the beauty of God's love into a world that desperately needed it. He invited others to follow him in sharing their God-given goodness and beauty with the world.
And Jesus—alive and well through the Paschal Mystery—invites us today to do the same. We all have limited time on this earth. But our belief in Christ's Resurrection reminds us that our life in Christ is everlasting. Amidst troubles, we renew our baptismal promise this season to be bearers of hope, joy, love, and new life.
Yes, we will have our challenges. We will encounter weeds, in one form or another. But we also have our gifts and the call to bring beauty into the world by living the example of the one who is the promise of Easter.