Blog # 323 Missionary Attitude
A 'Missionary Attitude' could be described as a way of seeing our life as joined through Baptism with the mission of Jesus to believe, experience, and proclaim the message of salvation.
The familiar enthusiasm of our Baptist friends in asking the question "Are you saved" exemplifies a missionary attitude. Jehovah Witnesses and Mormon missionaries knocking on doors throughout the neighborhood are also examples of a missionary attitude. Francis Xavier, Junipero Sera, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Katherine Drexel, Billy Graham, and Martin Luther King Jr. could also be added to those who lived out a missionary attitude.
Several Characteristics come to mind when I think of a missionary attitude. It is generally associated with a keen awareness of a dimension of reality beyond the physically sensed world. There is a strong and clear experience of faith and an ongoing sense of God's presence in the world and in the missionary's life. There is generally an awareness of a personal Biblical commission to bring Salvation to all people. There is an awareness of the centrality of Jesus as one's personal Savior, a regular prayer experience, an assurance of one's personal salvation in Jesus, generous dedication to God's work, and a conviction that every Christian is called to be missionary.
The theology or theory of our Catholic missionary attitude incorporates all of the above. Yet if we observe a typical Catholic parish we do not always detect the same degree of enthusiasm for evangelization or active participation in it that we find in several of the non-Catholic church congregations living around us. All of our recent Popes have made special efforts to remind us of our BAPTISMAL COMMITMENT to evangelization. Each Baptized person is called and committed to participate in the work of evangelization. of the world not only in memory of Jesus, or in imitation of Jesus, but IN HIM, united in the ONE LIFE of Sanctifying Grace.
The ROLE of sharing in the mission of Jesus through faith and Baptism is common to all. The OPPORTUNITIES for exercising it are unique to each of us.
The identity of a Christian missionary is distinct from that of a propagandist for a particular (Christian ) cause, or a recruiter of new members for the Church. Our role as missionaries is to bring the holiness of Jesus to our whole life and our particular moment of history. We begin by being missionaries to ourselves. Whenever, wherever, and in whatever way the world as we know and experience it does not 'belong' to Jesus as its unique Savior is the legitimate object of our concern in one way or another.
This insight helps us see more clearly the meaning of our Baptismal identity as missioners. Everything is connected. All that exists is the object of a desire and plan of the Creator
of all. The parables of Jesus regularly exemplified this truth. He spoke of wheat, pearls, fish, bread, wedding feasts and garments not for their own sake but for the meaning He saw in them by way of their relationship with something He wanted to teach as part of God's plan for the people to whom He was speaking.
As a result of this method of His, teaching moments were multiplied for Him and the meaning and application of His message became more clear. Jesus had formed a habit of seeing an invisible spiritual reality beyond the physical sense world. We can do the same, on a purely natural level, as for example when we receive a written message from a friend and read between the lines the richness of a message mere human words cannot completely convey in the light of the relationship we have with the person who wrote the message to us. Applying a similar procedure to the experience of what pertains to the content of our faith, we hold ourselves open to God's love coming to us beyond and more richly than the sounds shapes and colors of material realities such as sun stars flowers birds bread wine oil water and words can convey.