Blog # 269 Missionaries !
In a well known passage from St. Mark's Gospel, chapter 4:30-32 compares the reign of God to a mustard seed. Reflection briefly on that passage brought to mind several other texts each of which focuses upon the essential missionary nature of the Church.
I think we are all familiar with these and similar texts. "Go and preach the Good News to all the world." "As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you." ""The harvest is good but the laborers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into the harvest."
Popes and Bishops have regularly used such texts in reminding us of our identity as missioners, people who have been sent into the world around us with a message. From John Paul II: " No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church can avoid their supreme duty to proclaim Christ to all people." Several texts from the Document on missionary activity issued officially by the Second Vatican Council are clear and powerful in identifying every believer by virtue of Baptism as sent to proclaim and give witness to the reign of God among us.
Here are some samples: "The Pilgrim Church is missionary by her very nature." "What was once preached by the Lord or what was wrought in Him for the saving of the human race must be proclaimed and spread abroad to the ends of the earth...Thus what He once accomplished for the salvation of all may in the course of time come to achieve its effect in all." "The Holy Spirit instills into the hearts of the faithful the same mission spirit which motivated Christ Himself." "Prompted by the Holy Spirit, the Church must walk the same road which Christ walked, a road of poverty and obedience, of service and self-sacrifice to the death from which He came forth a victor by His resurrection."
"This missionary activity finds its reason in the will of God." "Missionary activity is closely bound up too with human nature itself and its aspirations. For Christ is the source and model of that renewed humanity penetrated with brotherly love, ,and a peaceful spirit to which all aspire." As members of the living Christ all the faithful are duty bound to cooperate in the expansion and growth of His Body so that they can bring it to fullness as swiftly as possible." "Let all realize that their first and most important obligation toward the spread of the faith is this: to lead a profoundly Christian life."
These few texts are samples of the many we could use to express the Church's faith and conviction that ALL who have been recreated as Paul put it or born from above as St. John had it are identified and sent into the world as Jesus was. As a religious minority here in Georgia we Catholics could be tempted to say we are too small in numbers to make a significant impact upon the growth of the Church in our community. The quotation from St, Mark with which we began seems to address that very problem. "...like a mustard seed, the smallest of all, yet it grows...:
So the question presents itself, what are we doing to spread the Good News? What can we do? None of us can do everything but all of us can do something. Maybe a good place to begin is to pray. "Rising early, Jesus went off to a lonely place ...there He was absorbed in prayer." ( Mark I:35).
Here is the official prayer Glenmary received from our Founder, Father Bishop, back in 1939 when he began to gather around himself a few others who were the orginal members of the Home Missioners of America. I joined him and them in 1947. There were very few days between now and then when I didn't pray it several times.
Lord Jesus Christ Who for the salvation of all people founded Your Church in the blood of Sacrifice, look with mercy on this land of ours where your truth is unknown to many for whom You endured you passion and death. We commend to Your Sacred Heart the work of carrying Your Gospel to the mission regions of America. Raise up holy and zealous apostles to bring Your words of salvation to souls now thirsting for the truth. Have mercy on them, Lord, and send shepherds to lead them into Your one true fold. Amen!