The Collect appointed for Proper 6, Year B has a certain poetry to it. It is beautiful and profound, but it has a very peculiar turn of phrase that, I’m certain, will go unnoticed and unexplained in congregations all over the globe this Sunday. The Celebrant will pray that the Church might “minister [God’s] justice with compassion.”
Minister… a verb?
Dictionary.com gives two definitions for minister as a verb.
- to administer or apply: to minister the last rites.
- Archaic . to furnish; supply.
I’m pretty uncomfortable with the Church acting as administrators for God’s justice. It proved to be a really poor idea in Latin American where the Church, deeply in bed with politicians, convinced whole nations that they were better off impoverished and oppressed because their joy would be eternal.
I’m much more comfortable seeking to supply or furnish God’s justice with compassion. If we can, in our own small way, model for the world what it looks like to be a just community, then perhaps we change the world. Think of it as a large scale Liberty Mutual commercial. What if we lived into the vision God has for his Kingdom and a just society? What if we took care of those in need? What if we thought of God first and others second… reserving ourselves for third? What if we took care of one another?
We’ll pray for it on Sunday, though many won’t have a clue what we’re asking for.