When we speak of parish life we often make the reference by talking about the ministries that are actively present in the parish.
They will be quite varied, some more important than others, yet all very important to the harmony and the working of the parish.
Two ministries that we would immediately relate to would be Minister of the Word and Minister of the Eucharist. So what is the meaning of the term ministry?
St Paul in 2 Cor ch 3 speaks of being a minister of the New Covenant. This can be a rather general way of making reference because we are all of the New Covenant.
What Paul is saying is, that the central blessing of the New Covenant is the indwelling Holy Spirit. So for Paul we should be thinking of ‘ministry of the Spirit’.
This means that it is not so much about us or our abilities. Ministry is primarily an activity of the Holy Spirit though us.
In some ways this takes the pressure off us as we are the mediators of a blessing that does not originate in us. We may carry out the action but its effect on the person is reliant on the Holy Spirit. An example of this, I may give a homily but what message is heard by the listener is the work of the Holy Spirit.
A good example is in Acts 2:8 when the Apostles, filled with the Holy Spirit, were preaching to the people, the people all heard it in their own language. So one word preached but received with a different message to each person.
The message for us is to know that once we take up a ministry that for that ministry to have its effect it will be not only us doing something but by the mere fact that it is a ministry of the church then the Holy Spirit will be endeavouring to work through us.
If we are not successful or happy in a ministry to we need to self-reflect and question our reason for being involved? If it is not to allow the Spirit to be active in the church then something needs to change?
I remember someone in a parish who carried out what would be called a very ordinary ministry but this person loved this role in the church and made it into something special. It was doing something special for God.
Is it my motives, why did I take it on, is it for me? But it must be a working relationship – me and the Holy Spirit.
Fr Michael Morley