The Right Tools For The Job

The readings we heard last week and this week set my mind on a branch of theology known as ecclesiology, which deals with the nature of the Church. Many of us are familiar with the idea of Christ initially founding (or planting, if you will) His Church in the world, through His Apostles, but much more thought has been spent on that reality than you might have suspected.

As an aside, while you grow in love and knowledge of God, you’ll find that’s a theme — there is always greater depth and broader scope to the things the Church teaches, about God and the ways He works in our world.

In terms of ecclesiology, however, we heard last week, through both the Scriptures and the homily, about the fact of Christ’s establishing a Church in the world, as though a tiny seed had been planted and God was bringing, not only the bush to maturity, but through it, granting shelter and safety to various birds. So it is, of course, with the Church.

Through the chosen twelve, Jesus founded the Church in our world to be an extension of His own arm, to make His presence known and loved, to illuminate to men and women of every age and era the mysteries of God. So the Church stands, as that large tree, planted as nothing more than a mustard seed.

However, the tree is not only healthy in itself; it provides comfort, safety and shelter to those creatures that come to her. The Church serves as a shelter in the world for those who carry great burdens, for those who are wounded and for those who have been spurned.

The tree of the Church fulfills these roles in many ways, but it seems each leaf is different; each parish church has a distinct character, according to the branch upon which it grows.

Here I will shift the metaphor to those we find in today’s readings.

We celebrate today, not the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, as we would normally, but rather the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. This is quite providential, I think, as I reflect on last week’s readings and those we encounter today; and next week, as in our parish, we observe the Solemnity of Saints. Peter and Paul.

Isaiah declares a prophecy over God’s chosen people, that they are as a sharpened sword and as a polished arrow. That is, we are forged with a purpose. We, even in this very specific place, are to be a useful tool in God’s hand, to be wielded both skillfully and effectively, by the Holy Spirit to accomplish God’s Will in the world. This parish has a particular function, even as a sword is for cutting or an arrow for piercing.

God is honing us to great deeds in this place for him.

And so, though we change incrementally, perhaps as brothers and sisters come and go, visit or find home in our company, our parish is but one arrow, among a great many. We are fit for distinct works, as the Lord has set aside for us.

This parish is the expression of the Body of Christ, by the Holy Spirit, in this specific time and place. We are not any other arrow in the Lord’s quiver; we are a particular arrow, and the Lord intends to use us against a particular foe. The Lord might say to the enemy, “I’ve got an arrow with your name on it.”

In Jesus’ name, we are what we are in this place and at this point in time, appointed to do the task which the Holy Spirit will carry out in us. We may not be or have what another parish does, nor might we do things as they do; their task is not necessarily our task, nor is our mission theirs. Of course, we can work together in many great ways, but as each seed is grown into a bush, distinct and unique from the others, so is our parish family, and our gifting is according to the purpose God has for us.

By Divine Providence, we have or will receive all we need for the good work the Holy Spirit is doing through us, God’s Church, here in Mendota.

David Dunst
Director of Music and Liturgy


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