Wednesday, September 2, 2009 - Wednesday in the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time[Colossians 1:1-8 and Luke 4:38-44]
At daybreak, Jesus left and went to a deserted place. The crowds went looking for him, and when they came to him, they tried to prevent him from leaving them. But he said to them, "To the other towns also I must proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God, because for this purpose I have been sent."
As one who has been granted the privilege of engaging in a full time itinerant preaching ministry, I find the words above from the Gospel of Luke rather meaningful. I don't mean that there are crowds of people following me around and begging me not to leave wherever I am (although I have had some wistful comments to that effect)! I do mean that an itinerant ministry cannot succeed unless there are those regular times in "a deserted place" and the temptation to stay in a particularly attractive place must be resisted at all costs. I regard my status as an itinerant preacher to be a "privilege" for a couple of reasons. First of all, there are not very many of my Dominican brethren who engage in this ministry. Most have "regular jobs" that don't depend entirely on what they do in a pulpit!! (I'll refrain from looking out at the audience at this moment!) The "security" of a salary is very attractive to a local community! My provincial superiors would be interested in knowing that I'll be able to "make ends meet!" (A number of my brothers have asked if I would have enough to do!) There's a bit of irony in this because we are "mendicant friars" and were originally intended to go door to door to beg for our sustenance. (Well, there's always our very important annual 1216 Campaign!). Freedom from significant administrative responsibilities - which have been a big item in my life for many years - enables matters considerably. A second reason I regard my ministry as a privilege is that I am able to handle the travel and diverse preaching circumstances fairly well. Anyone whose livelihood depdns on travel can speak of the "asceticism of the road!" Many of my brethren love to preach but prefer to preach to the same audience and in the same place most of the time. There's some irony in this because St. Dominic founded the Order of Preachers to be itinerant, in contrast to the monastic way of life which is "stable." Most of all, I am grateful that I have whatever gifts and skills as a preacher that the Holy Spirit is working with that allow me to do well enough that I get invitations to give retreats and parish missions and other similar events! I can never take this for granted or believe that it is MY efforts that make all this succeed. Every preaching brings with it some worries about doing a good job. I have to go to that "deserted place" from time to time, and I have to resist the invitation to stay in an attractive place that would compromise the itinerant nature of my ministry. My comfort is that the Lord had to deal with the same problems, and with his help I'll manage somehow! AMEN