Isaiah 66:10-14, Galatians 6:14-18 , Luke 10:1-12,17-20
The Essential Keys for Effective Ministry
The Bible describes all Christians as disciples, saints, and ministers (Matt. 28:18-20; Eph. 2:10; 4:12). God’s ministry is not only limited to priests or ministers of the sanctuary. It also refers to different ways we work and serve God.
The call for effective ministry is simply a vocation to minister to souls. So if you have an interest in touching lives, and saving souls in whichever capacity, always know that you are a minister.
The effective ministry then is fundamentally about the service that we render wholeheartedly to God and humanity. In today’s readings, we will focus mainly on the essential keys for an effective ministry.
These are the fundamental guidelines that will help us to be effective in the different ways we serve God wholeheartedly, for the growth of the church, salvation of souls and the sake of humanity. It also includes the works done by the priests, religious and other ministers of the sanctuary.
Therefore, the ministry is the responsibility of all Christians. It involves every service that we render to God, the church and humanity in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. In today’s liturgy, Jesus reveals to us the secret and essentials to having an effective ministry.
In today’s reflections, our emphasis will be on the gospel, then we can do little applications to the first reading and the second reading. Let us take our analysis today gradually:
The Lords Sends Out Seventy Two: Significance of Seventy Seventy Two (72).
1. The number 72 is from the number 70 and 70 as a number is the product of 7 x 10. In Jewish numerology, the number 7 represents completion, perfection and a time of rest.
The number 10 itself represents the completion of the divine order, therefore, 70 can be understood as the number that shows the completion and perfection of the divine order.
2. In Genesis 46:27, remember also that it was 70 members of Jacob’s family that went down to Egypt. Then, 70 elders were appointed to help Moses in the administration of the people of Israel in the wilderness (Numbers 11:16).
We have to note also that the tribe of Judah spent 70 years of exile in Babylon. Then today, 72 men were sent forth by Jesus (Luke 10:1) Also remember when Jesus told Peter that 70 times 7 times was the number of times to forgive his brother.
So, this number is highly symbolic. It represents perfection, and only God is perfect. Just like Moses, Jesus also appoints 72 disciples to serve. This means that the vocation to effective ministry is a heavenly mission.
3. In the gospel, it is Jesus who sends them, therefore, the work we are doing is not our own, it is a heavenly mission.
We do not do it for the sake of our gain. We do not work for the sake of our interests, rather we work for God’s interest. It is also a journey towards our perfection and completion of our earthly journey.
4. Therefore, just like Jesus sends out the 72 to the places He is to visit, He also sends us to those lives that He wants to dwell. He sends us to those souls He wants them to be saved, He sends you to those families that He wants to visit.
One essential key for effective ministry is to recognise in the first place that we are sent. Therefore, we have to see every ministry as a way to serve God and humanity from the heart.
It is not necessarily a way to enrich our pockets, no. every ministry should focus on the salvation of souls. This is our divine mandate. This is our mission.
The Need for Effective Ministry.
In today’s gospel, Jesus simply gives the disciples the reason or the aim of sending them out. He said to them, “The harvest is rich but the labourers are few”
This simply indicates that we have many works to do in God’s vineyard. In God’s vineyard, there is no lack of work to do. There are different forms of apostolate. You can choose one and focus on it.
We have the hospital apostolate, the apostolate for the sick and the aged, charity apostolate, online evangelisation, children apostolate, apostolate for saving the lost, visiting the prisoners etc.
Also, We have the teaching ministry, singing, praying, and service ministry. We have a lot to do. So, this indicates that there is a need for effective ministry.
Jesus states categorically that it is not because of a lack of what to do but because of the lack of those who are willing to do it. But there are few willing labourers.
Therefore, we need more labourers who are willing to devote their lives to working for God and the people. Let us devote ourselves sincerely to the growth of the gospel message.
Some Important Keys for Essential Ministry.
Through the readings, let us highlight some important keys to being effective in our different vocations and calling. They are:
1. Know that We are Sent.
In the gospel, Jesus sends the 72, to the place He intends to visit. He tells the disciples that the harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so they should ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest.
Therefore, we have the Lord of the harvest who is the owner of the Vineyard. We are not the owner of the work, therefore, we should not lord it over ourselves as if we are the ones who determine its effects on people.
Our function is to lead people to God. Our work is to guide souls to God and God knows how to do His work. Secondly, to be sent, we have to know that we are working for someone.
When you are working for someone, it requires carefulness, patience, humility, respect and a life of constant communication with the person you are working for. This is very important in our journey to be effective as a minister.
Thirdly, since we are working for someone, we have to constantly seek His guidance, help, grace and spiritual strength.
In John 15:5, He says “cut off from me and you can do nothing”. Therefore It is only with the Lord of the work that we can be effective in our ministry.
2. We work better in Pairs.
In today’s gospel, Jesus sends them out in pairs. This style of moving in pairs can be seen in the acts of the apostles; Peter and John (Acts 3), Paul and Silas (Acts 16), and Paul and Barnabas (Acts 11).
In the Jewish tradition, we have a tradition of “two witnesses.” Deuteronomy 19:15 stipulates that at least two witnesses are needed to convict someone of a crime.
So, two witnesses are more reliable than one. So, when two of Jesus’ disciples proclaim the kingdom of God, people would be more likely to listen to them than one person.
Secondly, Jesus teaches us the need to have a collaborative or shared ministry. There is always an added impact when two or more people work together.
This collaborative mentality is highly effective when it comes to working for God. To have an effective ministry, we need the other person. By sending his disciples out two by two, Jesus foreshadowed the collegiality that would become the hallmark of the church.
This essentially teaches that we need each other. God’s work is not a one-man business.
3. Lambs Among Wolves.
Christians are the “sheep of his pasture” (Psalm 100:3), and Jesus is the Chief Shepherd (1 Pt 5:4). Therefore, anyone who is familiar with sheep herding understands the danger of wolves. Among wolves, A sheep simply has no defence. A wolf must surely attack the Sheep.
Therefore, when Jesus is sending them among wolves, He is revealing to them the nature of the work. It means that they would be attacked, dejected, embarrassed and abandoned.
Therefore, Jesus’ warning is to be watchful, wary, and wise. It then means also we have to be ready to face stiff-necked challenges and suffering.
Hence, the devil will not fold hands and allow us to destroy his kingdom. He is also ready to challenge and bring us down. He is ready to raise his disciples who will constantly challenge God’s ministers.
Let us always know that in working for God, it is not every person that will believe and accept whatever we say. Many people will be against us.
In John 16:33, He tells His disciples that in the world, they will truly have trouble. But they have to be strong because He has conquered the world.
Pray to the Lord of the Harvest.
While preparing His disciples for the work ahead, Jesus says “‘The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest”.
This statement is a reminder that this work is not ours. It is the work of God. In essence, this shows that we are just mere instruments God is using.
Therefore, to be fruitful, let us always seek the help, blessings and grace of the Lord of the Harvest.
It means also that we must look to the Lord for the success of our work. A man of prayer wins more spiritual battles and depends on the grace of God to pave the way for Him.
Spend time with the Blessed Sacrament and ask the Lord to guide your steps and decisions. Ask Him for helpers. He is always there to find those who are going to be there for you.
Also when working for God, we have to know that the vineyard belongs to God. He is the lord of the harvest. We do not work, as if we are the Lord, seeking honour and worship.
So, We do not work for God so that people will clap and praise us. We work for God so that souls can be saved.
We are promoting the evangelization of souls. Let us always understand that in every work, we are serving the Lord. We are not serving ourselves. Hence, we have to avoid lording it over ourselves. We need to work for God with humility.
In the gospel, Jesus tells His disciples, “Whatever house you go into, let your first words be, “Peace to this house!” And if a man of peace lives there, your peace will go and rest on him; if not, it will come back to you”.
Therefore, we have to be harbingers of peace. Our work is to promote peace. The gospel that we preach is not only in what we write or talk about but in what we do.
Therefore, when people encounter us, they have to encounter light, peace, joy, holiness etc. Working for God is done also through the life we live.
If we are truly sons of God, then we have to become the same to people that we encounter. Let us be that living gospel that brings people back to God.
Trust In God’s Provision.
In the gospel. Jesus tells the disciples “Carry no purse, no haversack, no sandals. Salute no one on the road.”
It is impossible to ask someone to travel without these necessities of life. That means they will not even take money or the means to buy supplies or food.
He also tells them not to pack an extra tunic or extra sandals and staff. In other words, for this journey, they should make absolutely no provision for their own needs.
Why would Jesus say this? The answer is here. Later Jesus says “Stay in the same house, taking what food and drink they have to offer, do not move from house to house. that the labourer deserves his food”.
After saying that they should not carry anything, He later says that they deserve their wages. Therefore, Jesus believed that despite the lack, the disciples would not go hungry, they would be fed, protected and taken care of.
Hence, Jesus wants to show these men that God can provide for their needs through the hospitality and generosity of those they serve (Matthew 6:25–34).
In this way, they will learn to trust that with Jesus, they would never lack. Therefore, one of the keys to effective ministry is to trust in God’s provision. Our focus then should not be on what to gain, but on what we shall give to God.
Eat What is set before You.
Remember that an average Jew does not eat whatever is set before them. The Jews have dietary rules and customs. They do not eat unclean foods.
Remember Peter’s experience in Act 10, when a voice from heaven tells Peter to kill and eat what is set before him, and Peter answered “No, Lord!” “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean” (Acts 10:13).
So, when Jesus tells His disciples to eat whatever, Jesus is not asking them not to observe the Jewish laws, but Jesus is asking them to accept what the people give to them. Therefore, they have to be content with what they are given.
It’s about contentment, and not being greedy. So, one of the essential keys to effective ministry is contentment.
Your Vocation is to heal and Not to Cause Trouble.
Lastly, Jesus tells the disciples “Cure those in it who are sick, and say, “The kingdom of God is very near to you.” But whenever you enter a town and they do not make you welcome, go out into its streets and say, “We wipe off the very dust of your town that clings to our feet, and leave it with you. Yet be sure of this: the kingdom of God is very near.” I tell you, on that day it will not go as hard with Sodom as with that town.’
Therefore, the vocation is to heal. We are called to heal the sick, the sinners, the broken-hearted, broken homes, the homeless, the depressed, downtrodden, the suffering, those who have lost hope in God etc. In one way or the other, our call is to heal.
We are not called to cause trouble. Jesus did not ask anyone to fight or cause trouble, rather He tells them that in any town you enter and they do not welcome you, the best is to wipe off the dust of your feet.
Judgement belongs to God and not to you. Jesus has judgement reserved for them when He says “ I tell you, on that day it will not go as hard with Sodom as with that town.’. Therefore, work and leave everything in the hands of God.
1. First thing we have to bear in mind is that the need for effective ministry is the responsibility of every Christian. God has sent you into this world to save souls for Him. We are all involved in the business of touching lives and bridging souls back to God.
The proclamation and the building of the kingdom of God is a call and responsibility not just for the leaders and a few people but to all who believe in Jesus Christ and are baptised in the church.
Our greatest aspiration in life should be channelled towards building the Kingdom of God. It is not for personal gain or enrichment.
2. To preach the Kingdom of God, Our Lord Jesus was sent by the Father to proclaim and establish the kingdom of God. After His earthly ministry, Jesus sent His disciples to be the heralds of the Kingdom among all the peoples.
Hence, He founded the Church to be the sign and instrument of salvation for all human beings.
Therefore, the purpose of the Church is to continue to proclaim God’s kingdom and preserve the souls handed unto our care. We have to be close to the Church and take the sacraments very seriously.
The church is not a human institution but a divine institution, established by Jesus for the sake of our good.
3. God calls us to be harbingers of peace and not harbingers of destruction. In the second reading, Saint Paul tells the Church in Galatia that he does not want any more trouble from anybody after teaching and guiding them that to be in Christ is already to be a new creature.
It doesn’t matter whether they are circumcised or not. Therefore, peace should be the watchword for every Christian home and minister.
Therefore, We have to bring peace to our homes, families and places of work and wherever we are.
3b. In the gospel, Jesus tells His disciples that they must be agents of peace. This is very important for an effective ministry. We have also to bring peace and encouragement to those who are suffering and passing through difficult moments.
In the first reading, Isaiah says “For thus says the Lord: Now towards her I send flowing peace, like a river, and like a stream in a spate of the glory of the nations”.
These verses are the conclusion of the book of Isaiah. God addresses these words to the Jews who are rotting in exile. It is a word of consolation and encouragement to them as they expect better days ahead.
Here, God asks them who are mourning to rejoice, because He has remembered Jerusalem. Therefore, as instruments of God, we have to bring consolation to the suffering.
4. We have to know that we have a lot to do in the house of God and for God. There is a need for effective ministry. The harvest is indeed plentiful. Many broken homes need someone to bring peace to them. Many people are suffering and in difficulties need your prayer and charity. We have a lot to do.
We have a lot to heal, many sinners to convert and many people to strengthen their faith again. Therefore, no Christian should fold his hands or try to excuse himself or herself. We have to respond to this. We need this for an effective ministry.
5. Finally, Jesus challenges us with the statement that “the labourers are few” This could be a lament, it could also be a reminder from Jesus to us and hence, could be an invitation. If the labourers are few, Jesus is inviting us to join the working crew.
If the labourers are few, it means that we have many people but only a few are willing to work sincerely for God. Then the question is “are we among the few?”What can we do for God? Or what are we doing presently for God and humanity?
May God give us the strength to work effectively for Him. May He also give you the grace to bring souls to Him. God bless you.