Colossians 2: 6-15
As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have come to fullness in him, who is the head of every ruler and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a spiritual circumcision, by putting off the body of the flesh in the circumcision of Christ; when you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it.
Psalm 145: 1-2, 8-11
I will extol you, my God and King,
and bless your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless you,
and praise your name forever and ever.
The Lord is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The Lord is good to all,
and his compassion is over all that he has made.
All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,
and all your faithful shall bless you.
They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom,
and tell of your power
Luke 6: 12-19
Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot, and Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them.
Today’s Gospel shows Jesus’ ministry as it begins to take off. We see Jesus select His twelve Apostles and then minister to crowds who are eager to hear the Word of God and be healed. He has become a public figure and at this point His ministry looks quite glamorous; He is famous, powerful, and sought after. We may wonder what that sort of life was like, especially when we see other saints following a similar path, and we may also wonder if following the Lord will also include a call to minister to others in a public way. Perhaps we imagine ourselves with our own ministries, or at least have some sort of niche where we are visibly serving God or speaking His Word to others. We might be tempted to crave the spotlight or at least the validation, even in our genuine desire to serve the Lord. But, while we can be sure that it is God’s will to use us in this life, He also calls us to look past what looks like the prestigious part to what is really involved in a life of faith and service.
The Gospel shows us first that Jesus’ active public ministry came from a deep prayer life. We cannot expect God to really use us unless we are praying a lot. For it is in prayer that we give our whole selves over to the Lord and let Him change us in the ways we need to be changed. In prayer, we listen to Him and learn to know His voice and His will. In prayer, we decrease and He increases, which makes it possible for Him to lead us and entrust us with more. Jesus spent an entire night in prayer before moving forward in His ministry. If you feel called to work for the Kingdom, the first step is to dedicate more of your daily life to prayer.
Also, though it is not obvious on the surface, the Gospel reminds us today that every step of Jesus’ ministry was a step toward the Cross. Among those He selected to be His Apostles, one was the traitor, who would hand Jesus over to be crucified. At first glance, this might look like a failure of discernment on Jesus’ part, but it was part of the path the Father was leading Him on all along. Likewise, when we are striving to serve God, we need to recognize that His call on our lives will always include the Cross. This may appear as a major trial we need to suffer, or simply be the continual call to die to our sin and selfishness so that we can live more fully for Christ. But just as we cannot expect God to use us if we are not praying, we cannot expect a life of holiness without the Cross. It is the greatest paradox, but just as we read in Colossians, the Cross is our way to triumph. We are blessed with the fact that Jesus has already walked before us, and can lead us into this triumph as we unite our crosses with His.
Spend some time in prayer today, asking the Lord to show you how He desires to use you, both in large and small ways. Reflect on the ways you are able to spread God’s Word to others in your daily life, and ask the Lord to help you grow in holiness so that He can use you even more. Understand that the first answer to that prayer may very well be a call to spend more time in silent prayer and to bear your crosses with patience. But if you are obedient as Jesus was, you can be confident that your Heavenly Father will give you all the grace you need and do great things in and through you.