Our black brothers and sisters have a favorite statement of praise that you will hear often during their church services, it goes like this;
God is Good! All the time!
And all the time, God is Good!
This statement of faith is often prayed loudly over and over again and even accompanied by a bit of moving on the part of the faithful! Once everyone has had a chance to renew their faith commitment in this manner, all settle back and listen to the preacher give his or her message!
God has blessed us with this gift of faith as well. As faithful members of the body of Christ we come together to listen to God’s Word and be nourished at the Table of the Lord.
We hear how God blessed the Shunammite woman because of her faith and generosity toward the prophet Elisha. In Paul’s letter to the Romans, we are reminded once again that our earthly lives do not end in death, rather we are given new life in Christ and will suffer no more.
To understand more fully the message of the Gospel from Matthew today, it is important to know that the chapter preceding this one was where Jesus was sending out the disciples to do the work he had called and prepared them to do, preach the good news of salvation. This is a pretty daunting mission! One that we are all being called to yet today! Isn’t it an amazing gift for God to trust us so much with the good news that we are given the holy task of representing God to others?
In the gospel Jesus reminds us that this call to discipleship challenges us to make his mission paramount in our lives. Fulfilling the mission of Jesus Christ requires that we detach from those things that keep us from being good news and focus on living the new life we have been given at Baptism.
During the past year through prayer and discernment I made the decision that after 40+ years serving in several parishes in Michigan and Kentucky, it was time to retire. Despite the ongoing pandemic, unrest in churches, communities and the world at large, retirement from active ministry begins in July!
In looking back over these past years of service, I was just about as clueless as were the disciples as they embarked on this new life! I could not have imagined where these forty plus years would take me and how life changing it would be! In retrospect, as I look back over the years, I can only say it has been and continues to be a great ride! Yes, of course, there have been bumps, whirlwinds, ups and downs, but so many more times of exhilaration, faith growth, excitement and celebration!
For every blessing others have received from me over the years, I have been blessed tenfold in return. In listening to the promptings of the spirit so many years ago and still listening to her today, my life has been so enriched by hundreds of God’s people through parish ministry that never stops giving. There have been many Shunammite women, men and children who have opened their hearts and shared their faith so generously with this pastoral associate over the years.
My faith has been deepened tremendously serving Gods people through sacramental celebrations, RCIA, Faith formation of adults and children, outreach and justice programs to name just a few. The opportunity to work alongside so many lay ecclesial ministers, pastors and religious in the dioceses and parishes I served gave each of us many opportunities to be gift to one another as well.
Ministry is centered in love. God’s Love! I don’t know what retirement is going to look like, but I do believe that the God who called me at Baptism, Jesus, who continues to nourish me at the Table and the Spirit who serves as my guiding light are sure to bring many exciting days ahead!
GOD IS GOOD! ALL THE TIME. AND ALL THE TIME, GOD IS GOOD!
Theresa Secord is a Pastoral Associate at St. Agnes Parish, Louisville, Kentucky.