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THE MINISTRY OF THE WORD
Fr. Steven Scherrer
Homily of Saturday, Feast of St. Mark, April 25, 2009
1 Peter 5:5-14, Ps 88, Mk 16:16-20


"It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables... we will continue to devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word" (Acts 6:2,4).


St. Mark was an apostle and evangelist, a minister of the word. In his life we see the importance of prayer and the ministry of the word as a full-time job and vocation, which takes up all of one's time and energy. The apostles, therefore, did not want to wait on tables in the daily distribution to the poor widows, for to do so they would have had to set aside time that they would have otherwise devoted to prayer and the service of the word; and they did not believe that it would be right for them to do this. They therefore ordained seven men to perform this service. We see, therefore, that the idea and practice of a full-time ministry of the word and of a life dedicated to prayer began very early in the primitive Church. And this has been something which has continued ever since throughout the history of the Church.


How important, then, is this ministry of the word of God, linked to the vocation of a life of prayer. Monks have the vocation of a life of prayer, linked normally to manual work. But the apostles and their successors, who are the bishops and priests, have the vocation to dedicate themselves full-time to prayer, linked to the ministry of studying and preaching the word. They therefore do not have time to wait on tables or do other manual work, which should be given to other people, to other assistants, or to those who volunteer to provide such services within the Christian community.


How important it then is for us who have inherited this vocation of prayer and ministry of the word, that we faithfully dedicate ourselves full-time to this work, reading good books of theology, studies of the scriptures, and the sermons of the great preachers of the past and present, and that we diligently prepare our sermons so that they truly nourish the people of God! How important it also is that we dedicate ourselves to the liturgy of the hours, to the meditative reading of the scriptures, to spiritual reading, and to times of silent contemplation throughout the day!


How important it is, furthermore, that we live a life worthy of our vocation, living simply and austerely, seeking our joy only in God, not in the pleasures of this world! How important it therefore is that we not waste time in worldly diversions, watching television, going to movies, etc., which only divide our heart! Our life should rather be one of full-time dedication to prayer and the ministry of the word, without deviating either by waiting on tables, doing other manual work, or seeking our joy in secular and worldly diversions.


 


 


 

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