In the first reading at today's Eucharist, the prophet Isaiah (Is 55:10-11) reminds us that God's word is meant to do His will, achieving the end for which He sent it. It is like the rain and snow (which we know much of this Winter) that does not return to the heavens until it has done its job, "watering the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats". God's word shall not return to Him void. It is leaven. It is life giving and transformative. It is to be effective.
There have been times in my priesthood when I wonder what effect my words and actions have on people. Is the word that I preach, the example that I give, the ministry that I provide through the grace of God effective? Does it touch lives? When those moments of uncertainty arise, so too, humbly, does the proof. An example:
Within this past year the Men's Group of Immaculate Conception parish here in Irwin invited four of our priests to share a bit on their vocation to priesthood. Invited was Msgr. Donald Mondello, a retired priest who had served long ago at IC as an Associate Pastor, myself (a neighbor and also former Associate), Father Jonathan Wisnewski, one of our Vocation Directors and a younger priest, and Father John Moineau, the pastor of IC. The talks were great, as was the breakfast, as were the questions and comments.
One gentleman spoke of how he had been one of my Altar Servers and the effect that my friendship had on him. I know that he, and a friend of his, would send me a Christmas card each year. He is still very actively involved in the parish, especially in Liturgy. Another guy spoke of how I had recruited him to be a Lector about 37 years ago, and how that invitation had meant so much to him. He stated that he is still serving in that ministry. Both indicated to the group that I had touched their lives in wonderful ways. I was humbled.
You never know the impact and effectiveness of your ministry, presence, word or action. Do what you do in the name of Christ and in the love of God and the Spirit will bring blessings. He has for me.