The Church and the Olive Tree
WEDNESDAY: Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time
The Church and the Olive Tree
The Church in the world has its specific mandate from Christ: to baptize and evangelize all nation (Matt.28:19), heal the sick, raise the dead and exorcise the demons (Matt.10:8), forgive sins and bind souls for the kingdom (Matt.18:18; Jn.20:22-23). As a community of ambassadors, she reconciles all nations to Christ (2Cor.5:20). In addition, as the custodian of the sacraments, she consecrates the children of God and set them apart for sacred ministry (2Tim.3:17). By means of the Holy Eucharist, she prepares them for full participation in the resurrection of Christ (Jn.6:53-58).
She is the community of people consecrated to God and set apart for sacred duties (1Pet.2:9). Everyone who receives the Sacraments of Initiation is a designated priest, prophet and king in the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church. They are indispensable branches of the divine vine (Jn.15:1-8). Their stewardship is invaluable to the growth of the Church, the evangelization of the world, the healing of the nations, the deliverance of the oppressed and the conciliation of men and women to Christ. In other words, all the Baptized are part of the growing olive tree.
The notion of a growing olive tree in Psalm 51:10 beautifully defines the presence and ministry of the Church as a healing balm. It is a prototype of Christ presenting his credentials to the listeners in the synagogue and defining his mission as Messiah and Redeemer in the world (Lk.4:18). Similarly, it is an archetype of the growing Church. The Church has the same Holy Spirit with Christ. The Church is his branches throughout the world –commissioned to be good news to the suffering and oppressed world (Is.61:1-2) with a sense of gentle mastery, so beautifully expressed in the Beatitudes.
In biblical studies, the olive tree symbolizes patience, serenity, tranquility, peace, immortality; a symbol of holy chrism through which the grace of God is given to the human soul to empower people for sacred office. In general, the olive tree represents the Good News and the sacraments. It speaks of the wholeness and wellness of the human body and soul and of the whole world that the Father sent his Son to redeem (Jn.3:16).
Christ is a consummate expression of the olive tree in Luke 4:38-44 through the proclamation of the Good News, the laying on of hand on the sick and the exorcism of the demonic possessed, he restored the confidence of his audience and offered them hope in God’s love and mercy. Where is the Church today? How has she structured her evangelization and stewardship programs to reflect the qualities of the olive tree in the world that is afflicted in so many ways? As individual Christians, how are we using our anointing to heal the world?
Lord, I recognise, I am a branch of your olive tree, use me as you will that I may bring your healing and consolation to the afflicted among us.