7 November 2007. Wednesday of the 31st Week in Ordinary Time
Luke 14, 25-33 Requirements for Ministry
Note: The Gospel today can be seen as a continuation of the points of yesterday.
In doing our ministry as disciples of Jesus, there are certain conditions that we must accept before we embark on our mission.
First, we must accept the possibility of moving out of our comfort zones. When Jesus said that whoever ‘comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple,’ He means that the ministry of Jesus entails leaving the comforts of home and the affection of kin. Many choir members, for example, are offended by their parents who resent their ministry because they arrive at night from practice. Some of my students find the pressure of parents hateful when they interfere with their career choices, granting that their choices are rooted in their real vocation in life. In addition, we sometimes meet the ire of our friends when we follow our conscience like refusing a party with them in lieu of studying for an exam.
Second, real ministry requires preparation. We must discover our resources and gifts so that we will intelligently put ourselves in the position where we can best serve others. Jesus tells us of the tower builder who calculates the cost of his construction. Thus, before we embark on our ministry, we must discern what type of ministry requires the talents and skills that we have. Leaders therefore should help individuals discover their gifts. For example, would you tell a choir member who insists on singing as his form of service to God when he is out of tune? The choir member therefore suffers from inadequate self-knowledge and acceptance; and at the same time, that member is misplaced in his ministry.
Finally, ministry requires acceptance of one’s limitations. In doing our ministry, declining a request might be the most charitable thing to do. Jesus tells us of the king who marches into battle with 10,000 troops and decides whether he would wage war with another king who had 20,000 troops. If he knows he will be defeated, he would send a peace delegation instead. The same thing in ministry. Before embarking on a project we must know whether we can follow it through. Are our resources enough to see the whole project succeed? If not, it would be best to settle for manageable ventures, or seek for alternatives. This is another example: many choirs ambition on singing complicated songs, when their members could not correctly sing simple melodies. Better a simple song sung well, than a grand piece sang disastrously.