Ministry comes directly from the Latin word ministerium which means”office, service, attendance, ministry,” from minister “inferior, servant, priest’s assistant”.
Ministry is all about giving of ourselves and our time, talents, and resources to bless and help others. It is the ability to serve God with the little resources that He gives to us. Therefore, the Christian ministry is the service we render to God and the people for the sake of the salvation of souls.
The person who is involved in this is called a minister. As Christian we are also called to be part of this Christian ministry, to save, to help, inspire and work for the salvation of souls. Therefore, the Christian ministry is our ability to serve God because of who we are as Christians.
A Christian involves in ministry by spreading the message of faith and extending hospitality and love to people. In the second reading, Paul says that any ministry is worthless when we do not have love.
Also despite the willingness to be active in our Christian ministry, we must be ready for the challenges which are highlighted in today’s readings. Also despite these challenges, there are still ways to win over the challenges.
You have a Mission.
The first reading of today provides us with the call of Jeremiah. Jeremiah explains in the reading how God calls Him to work for Him. God says that He has consecrated Jeremiah to be a prophet to the nations even before Jeremiah was given birth.
Therefore, the first point to note here is that God knows what Jeremiah will be and the work He is to do even when He is in the womb.
One can say that God formed Jeremiah for a purpose and if God knows Jeremiah this way, the implication also is that God knows and understands our mission in this world even before we are born. There is a reason we are here.
The mission of Jeremiah is against the political nature of His time and to some kings and nations who see themselves as gods.
Amid this political turmoil, God sends Jeremiah. In the call of today, God says to him “I have appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
In essence, Jeremiah is sent to be God’s instrument against the political problem of his time. He is called to be the mouthpiece of God against the nations.
In the gospel, Jesus also exercises his apostolic ministry in His hometown.
So, in the same way, we have a mission for God. This mission could be to be an instrument of peace, reconciliation, repentance, and change in the life of somebody.
It can be an instrument of conversion for souls that have lost interest in God. It can be an instrument of peace for your community. Whichever way Let us understand that we are in this world for a reason best known to God.
Therefore, as God sets Jeremiah apart for a specific work he wants Him to do, God also sets us apart from a specific mission that He wants us to do. As Jeremiah is called to be of service to others, we are called to be a gift to others.
Therefore, in our Christian ministry, we are called to save souls and not to lead souls astray. We are not called to be an instrument of division.
Our call is not to bring disunity. Therefore, our call is to love as St Paul says in the second reading. Our call is to bring souls to God. But this apostolic ministry is not devoid of challenges.
As you respond to the call to serve God with your gifts and talents, be ready for the challenges that come with them. Let us also see the challenges we can encounter in our Christian ministry.
The Challenges of the Christian Ministry.
The Christian ministry or the readiness to serve God with our gifts and resources is something that gives gladness to the heart. But despite that, the Christian ministry is full of challenges. It is not an easy road.
Therefore, when you are ready to work or serve God, also be ready for the troubles and challenges that come with it. According to the readings of today, we have to be ready for these:
1. Be ready for those who will fight You.
Whether we like it or not we have to be ready for those who will fight us and try to pull us down. It is not everyone that is going to like whatever you do. In the first reading while God was assuring Jeremiah of His mighty presence and grace.
God assures Jeremiah that He will make him into a fortified city, a pillar of iron, and a wall of bronze to confront all the land, the princes, priests and the nations that He is sending him to. God says that the reason for this fortification is because they will surely fight Him.
Therefore, despite the mighty Presence of God with Jeremiah, many people will still fight Him. These people are those who will not be comfortable with His message. They are those who are already gaining from the evil happening at that time.
They are also those who are not ready to welcome the message that Jeremiah brings. In the same way, if you are ready to work or serve God with your resources and gifts, do not forget that many people will not like what you do.
2. Be ready for those who will not accept Your Message.
Today’s gospel gives us another episode of what happens in the town of Jesus. Unlike last Sunday when people were happy with His words, today, the same people turned back against Jesus Christ.
Last Sunday, they clapped for Jesus because they accepted His message but today they attacked him because they did not accept what He said. So, in the same way, not every person will say yes to you. Not every person will obey hook and sinker whatever you say.
As you work for God, be ready also for those who will not accept what you do. Let it not worry you. Be ready for those who will say no to you.
We have to be ready for those who will not accept our message and like what they did to Jesus, they will even do everything to attack or bring you down. These are normal.
3. Be Ready for Rejection.
The point here is that not every person is going to accept you. Secondly, even those who accept you for what you did today may still reject you tomorrow. Who in His wildest imagination could believe that the people that wondered and clapped for Jesus last Sunday are the same people that attacked him today.
Last Sunday, Jesus promised them that He has come to bring good news to the poor, liberation to the blind and favour to the people. They were very happy. And today, Jesus told them what they do not want to hear. Then they attacked Jesus.
In life, some of those people you are helping today may still turn out to be your enemies tomorrow. Some of the people you are serving and working today may turn against you tomorrow and treat you like nobody. Let us also be ready for rejection even from the same people that accept us today.
4. When Your Message is not what They want to Hear.
If you follow up from last Sunday, you will observe that last Sunday’s message of Jesus to the people was more of liberation, freedom, goodness, joy, favour etc.
Of course, this is the kind of thing we like to hear and want the preacher or minister to be preaching. This is the reason the people were happy with Jesus. But today, Jesus tells them their sins and loopholes, they become angry with Him.
Therefore, sometimes we do not like our parish priest, minister, father, mother, sibling, friends etc because they always tell us the truth in our faces. We do not like those people that do tell us the truth. We love praises, flattery and glorification even when we know that we are not doing well.
Therefore if you are somebody who always tells people the truth, be ready for their attack and rejection. Also, be ready for those who hate salvation messages.
When some of us come to church and we do not hear things like oga adiri gi na mma (it shall be well with you), I ga aka nka (you will live a long life), You will have money, wealth etc, we take the preacher as someone who is not serious.
That is why crusade posters that bear salvation massages do not bring much crowd. We want messages like open doors, miracles, breakthroughs etc. We don’t want messages like “repent from your sin, quit from immorality, abortion is evil, do not support it” etc.
The message of Jesus today is not the message they want to hear and that is they attacked Him. When people do not like the messages that you put to them, especially when you tell them their sins on their faces, they will surely hate you.
5. Many People will Misunderstand You.
As you work for God, always understand that not many people will understand what you do. Also, not every person will understand the reason you do what you do. Most of them who would like to know the reason will attribute many reasons to what you do.
Some of them will use indirect way to put a negative tag on your efforts. Always know that these must surely come.
In today’s gospel, Jesus tells his hearers that He knows that they will surely tell him to quote a proverb “physician cure yourself and say “do here in your native place the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.
Jesus then refers to how a woman who is non-jew fed Elijah during the times of famine despite that there are many widows in Israel but despite that, God sends Elijah to a widow of Zarephath. Also, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha yet none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian who is also a non-jew.
In essence, Jesus is telling them that they do not appreciate what they have and that’s why they have salvation at their front door but others who are far from the door are responding to the salvation more than they do.
Also from this statement, Jesus is revealing to them that His coming is not only for the jews but also for the gentiles. Capernaum where He did the majority of His works is a Jewish territory but mainly occupied by the gentiles.
But instead of the hearers understanding the meaning of His message and amend their lives, they take offence. Therefore in your Christian ministry also be ready for those that will misunderstand you.
6. The Miracle Seekers.
In many places today, if the minister is not known as an onye ekpere (prayer warrior), the people will see him as powerless. They will say that He is not someone who sees in spirit when we forget that we are blessed with different gifts.
Jesus tells the people that he knows that they will expect a miracle from him but they are not ready for the miracle. And that is the reason other cities that need it, encounter the healing power of God more than them.
Therefore, the jews are very far away from God but always seeking signs and wonders. Many people today who have these signs and wonder spirituality lack deep knowledge and relationship with God.
In your Christian ministry, the miracle seekers will expect much from you just as the people of Jesus time expect from Him. And when you do not give them what they want or when they do not see you as one who can perform miracles, they belittle you as a powerless minister of God. We seem to forget that salvation is always the first.
The Ways Out.
Avoid Trouble Totally.
In the gospel of today, when the people attacked Jesus and try to hurl him down, Jesus immediately withdrew from them. Jesus did not retaliate nor fight them back. Jesus did not bear grudges against them. He just withdraws Himself. Therefore, in the face of troubles, let us always withdraw. There is no glory in making trouble.
Be Courageous and Do Not Fear.
In Matthew 10:28, Jesus tells His apostles not to be afraid of those who kill the body rather they have to be afraid of those who kill the body and the soul. Therefore, despite the challenges that we face, we do not have to be afraid of anyone. In the first reading, God tells Jeremiah to brace for action, stand on his ground and tell them all that He commands.
God then warns Jeremiah not to be afraid of their presence. Therefore, we have to be so courageous. Never work under anxiety and tension. Trust God’s presence always.
Do not Stop.
In Mark’s account of this in Mark 6, although Jesus did not do miracles for them due to their unbelief, Jesus still laid hands on them and healed some sick people there. Therefore, never allow the misunderstanding, hatred and rejection from people to stop you from working for God.
At the end of our lives, we will give account in God’s presence and not in anybody’s presence. Therefore, do not allow any of these to stop you from doing the good thing you ought to do. If People appreciate you or not, continue to serve God with your whole heart. At last, our rewards will come from Him.
Always Pray for God’s Grace.
In the first reading, God sends Jeremiah to the nations, kings, and princes of His time. God reminds Jeremiah that they will surely fight Him but despite that, God promises Jeremiah that though they will fight against him, they shall not overcome Him, for he will surely deliver Him.
Therefore, God assured Jeremiah of His mighty presence and grace during the time of his trouble. In the same way let us always pray for God’s grace and mighty presence, in times of trouble.
Let Love Lead.
In the second reading, Paul asks us to be ambitious for the higher gifts. One of those higher gifts is the gift of Love. They are faith, hope and love and the greatest among them is love according to St Paul.
Therefore, in whatever we do, let love lead. Love is the greatest law ever. Every Christian should win with love, tolerance and understanding and not with quarrelling and enmity. If they come to you with hatred, repay them with love.
If they come to you with envy and jealousy, still follow them with love. At last, love wins. Our Christian ministry should follow the law of love. Be good always. Never allow anyone’s attitude to stop you from doing good.
1. In the gospel of today, Instead of paying deep attention to the message of Jesus, His audience started questioning his family background. They ask “Is this not Joseph’s son?”
Here, one can question, what has what Jesus told them to do with Joseph and Mary? The point here is that Jesus was talking to them as a man with authority.
So, they were amazed at Jesus because they know Jesus’ background, of course, Jesus didn’t attend any formal education, and then they wonder how He can speak like one? They wonder how he gets the authority to talk to them. This reveals that his listeners lack full knowledge of who Jesus is.
So, we have to ask ourselves, do we know who Jesus is? How many times have we rejected the word of a Minister of God because we know His background, or because you are his friend? How many times do we belittle the words of a minister because we feel we are very close to Him.
Sometimes, the saying that over-familiarity breeds contempt showcases itself here. Instead of paying attention to the word, we pay attention to what we think of the person preaching the word. And Sometimes what we think of the person is very far from the truth.
2. Just as Jeremiah was called today to be a prophet, we have to know that at our baptism, we are called to share in the prophetic mission of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, just as Jeremiah was sent to preach against the nations, kings and princes who were corrupt in his time, we have to faithfully fulfil our tasks as prophets of God.
We have to foster peace where there is no peace. We have to bring unity among warring families and communities.
Also, we do not keep quiet and allow evil to reign in our presence. We have to stand up against evil and promote the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We have to extend our Christian ministry to our homes, lives, communities, and places of work. Our presence should be a light and not darkness. We have to be a light wherever whatever and whoever we meet in life.
In Matthew 5:16, Jesus says let your light shine before men. Therefore, in our Christian ministry, our call is to be a light and not a way to manipulate.
3. The crowd wanted Jesus to do the same miracles in Nazareth that he did in Capernaum. There may be some rivalry between the towns but most likely the people of Nazareth feel that the hometown son (Jesus) should show them special favour and consideration, especially if he is the messenger and fulfilment of such good news.
Many Christians today are interested not in the word of God, not in repentance, nor coming close to God, but in signs and wonders, fake prophecies and miracles. When the Jews wanted Jesus to work some signs, Jesus replied that “No prophet is acceptable in his home country” (v. 24), which indicates that what Jesus needs from his listeners first are acceptance of his presence and His words.
In John 15:7 He says “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” But today we leave the first premise of abiding in Him and then pursue the second premise.
Many people today think that for one to prove that he is called by God; He must be a miracle worker, just as the Jews today expect miracles to certify Jesus as the Messiah. The truth is that no one is a miracle worker, God works miracles.
4. As the people attack Jesus today, we have to know that we can encounter the same in our Christian ministry. Whatever you do in life, there will be acceptance and rejection, and there will be times of joy and challenges.
It is not always a thoroughfare. You are posted in a place and people accept you with great enthusiasm when you started, you carry all their burdens, but at a little mistake, when they feel you don’t do what they want, or when you eventually try to correct some anomalies, they all turn back against you. You are not left alone, Jesus also suffered the same.
Sometimes those you help today, those you suffer for today, those you kill yourself for today, may turn against you tomorrow.
Therefore, never do anything to impress anyone. Do your work for God. Do not work to win the praises of people, for just as they are praising you today, they may still turn against you tomorrow. Jesus sets out in His earthly ministry to please God rather than men.
Secondly, Christians and God’s ministers need to preach the word that breaks the heart and the saving word. Everything must not be about signs and wonders.
5. Therefore, the call to work for God is not a bed of roses. It is not a call to find something to gain. So, it has its thorn and thistles. It is not a place where you easily eat good foods and gain easy benefits. It has its challenges and troubles. Therefore, get ready for them too.
Do not lose hope when people persecute you for nothing. Do not get down when they misinterpret or misunderstand you. Because many will do that. Do not expect everyone to love you. Many will not even understand what you are doing.
When you try to be different in your family or places of work, or when you try to bring people close to God, many forces will stand against you to pull you down, Many of them will make jest of you.
Some people will even persecute you for saying the truth to their faces just as Jesus does today. But all the same, keep your head high and trust in God’s presence, Be faithful to the end. At last, you will be a conqueror.
May God bless you dearest and give you the grace to be a conqueror all the days of your life. Amen, happy Sunday.