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Ramiro Pellitero, Professor of Theology

Christian, name of mission statement

Thu, 19 Jun 2014 08:43:00 +0000 Posted in

mission statementAccording to the dictionary, it is the power or School given to someone to go and perform some task. Today the word mission statement is also used to indicate, in a business, a lasting declaration of the object, purpose or raison d'être of that business. The Christian carries in his name - follower of Christ, member of Christ - his mission statement, that is, to work so that the mission statement of Christ is fulfilled in time, to communicate to men the Love of God towards each one.

In his message for the workshop World Mission Sunday, which will be celebrated this year on October 19, Pope Francis begins by saying: "Today there are still many people who do not know Jesus Christ". This workshop is, on the one hand, "a celebration of grace and joy". At the same time, an occasion for all Christians to commit ourselves with prayers and concrete gestures of solidarity to help the young churches in the territories of mission statement".

Undoubtedly, all this must be a manifestation of that conviction of what all Christians are: missionaries -in a broad sense-, apostles, evangelizers. Otherwise, we are not Christians. This is a conviction that, however, is far from taking root in many of us. And it should not be so, because especially since the sacrament of Confirmation we have become apostles and disciples sent by Jesus to be his witnesses. We, in our environment, in the midst of our family and professional, social and cultural tasks, etc., must give this joyful witness, the joy of those who have met Jesus and live for Him, with Him and in Him, and therefore aspire to a better world.

Now, in order to discover Jesus, the true Jesus who is God and man, we must become little ones. Jesus rejoices that God reveals himself to the little ones (cf. Lk 10:21). And God - Francis writes - hides himself from those who are too full of themselves and pretend to know everything. They are blinded by their own presumption and leave him no room.

"One can easily think of some of Jesus' contemporaries, whom he himself admonished on several occasions, but it is a danger that has always existed, and that affects us too." The little ones, the Pope explains, are "the humble, the simple, the poor, the marginalized, the voiceless, the weary and oppressed whom Jesus called 'blessed'". And among them he places Mary and Joseph, the fishermen of Galilee and the other disciples.

The Christian apostolate - which can be exercised in many different ways - is the fruit of the "power" that God has given us to make us small, in order to collaborate in this "business" of witnessing to his love. The day that in all the catechesis and courses of training it becomes clear to Christians that we have to be missionaries, we will have begun a new stage -more joyful, realistic and risky- of Christianity.

The joy of the Gospel," Francis observes in his exhortation degree scroll, "fills the heart and the whole life of those who encounter Jesus. Those who allow themselves to be saved by him are freed from sin, from sadness, from inner emptiness, from isolation. With Jesus Christ joy is always born and reborn"(Evangelii Gaudium, 1 ).

This is exactly what we all need: "The great risk of today's world, with its multiple and overwhelming offer of consumption, is an individualistic sadness that springs from the comfortable and greedy heart, from the unhealthy search for superficial pleasures, from the isolated conscience"(Ibid., 2). 

And this missionary commitment, which should affect us in our innermost being, the Pope now points out so that we can be clear about it, "is expressed both in the concern to proclaim it in the most distant places - as the missionaries officially commissioned by the Church do - and in a constant going out to the peripheries of our own territory, where there are more poor people who are waiting. Peripheries, in this sense, are everything that surrounds us, consumed - as we often are - by our own thoughts, plans and horizons, often interested in little more than ourselves.

For this reason it is good that Francis speaks to us of apostolic fervor, of joy and enthusiasm, of sharing what we have with the poor who abound in every misery.

But - it seems that we think, still throwing balls out of the window - in today's world there are few missionaries, and few missionary vocations. It is not so, there are still some. The Pope reminds us that vocations to follow Jesus Christ closely and to give one's life for others arise also among the laity, "where there is joy, fervor, desire to bring Christ to others" and where this joy is united to a good training.

We must invite everyone to draw closer to God, for only in God, as Pope Ratzinger said, is there a future. To those of us who are already trying to do so, the Pope exhorts us "to remember, as in an interior pilgrimage, the 'first love' with which the Lord Jesus Christ has enkindled the hearts of each one, not out of a feeling of nostalgia, but to persevere in joy," and to share it together with faith, hope and love.

So, at the same time that we celebrate and thank - with the prayer and the financial aid that we can - the task of the missionaries, we have to realize our apostolic mission statement , the one we have for being Christians, no matter the circumstances, favorable or adverse. We can always help others: parents to their children, neighbors and acquaintances, educators to those who depend on us, professionals to their colleagues, young people to their friends, the elderly to those who can advise from their experience. And we will be able to do so on the condition that each day we open ourselves a little more to the love that God has given us to communicate.

We must "respond" to this call without feeling ourselves to be the possessors of the truth, but respectful of the opinions of others and their search, which is always part of our own. Our first and foremost word must be the coherence that we strive to live. Kindly and joyfully, avoiding polemics and the mania of always wanting to be right, we will be ready to rectify in so many things that we have yet to discover, in this great and beautiful path that is Christianity.

And this, with a certain urgency, because we do not have all the time in the world, but only a little, to carry out the "mission statement" that God is asking or will ask of us. For this mission statement has been preparing us for some time, perhaps without our knowing it, as Francis also said in his preaching of these days (cf. Homily in Santa Marta, June 13, 2014).

It is up to us to allow ourselves to be led with serenity, to walk in the obedience of faith, supported by prayer and discernment.