“At that time the Lord appointed seventy-two others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit” (Lk 10:1). Jesus did not stop with this action, he continued and continues to call people to himself and sends them on mission to proclaim the same words: “The kingdom of God is at hand for you” (Lk 10:9).
To be a disciple of Jesus is to be both about maintaining the Church he instituted and going out on mission. This is why at the end of each Mass the deacon or priest in the absence of a deacon will say, “Go and proclaim the Gospel of the Lord” or three other formulas of being sent to be missionaries in our communities. This is not a call for clergy and religious only but for all of the baptized.
Pope Francis continues to ask us to renew our commitment to our missionary awareness. “This missionary mandate touches us personally: I am a mission, always; you are a mission, always; every baptized man and woman is a mission. People in love never stand still: they are drawn out of themselves; they are attracted and attract others in turn; they give themselves to others and build relationships that are life-giving. As far as God’s love is concerned, no one is useless or insignificant. Each of us is a mission to the world, for each of us is the fruit of God’s love.”
There is much here in the Pope’s words to meditate upon and put into action. We are not just to go out and do missionary work, to evangelize and share the Gospel, we are to embody mission. We “are a mission.” At the moment of our conception we exist as a unique individual already distinct from our parents. We are endowed with dignity and worth just by the fact that we exist.
A foundational part of the Good News is to continue to embrace the wonder and dignity of all life, to allow ourselves to be loved by our Creator again, to embrace the free gift of his love, and to go out on fire with and express the joy and love of being fully alive. We are to give ourselves to others through our willingness to encounter, accompany, and serve one another in love with the purpose of building “relationships that are life-giving.”
As seminarians of the Diocese of Palm Beach, we have been able to experience a taste of today’s Gospel. The eight of us have been sent out together and apart to different parts of the diocese to experience and serve. We have visited and experienced our northern diocese through the parishes of St. Helen, St. Sebastian, Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission, the pastoral center of Juan Diego, St. Lucie, and Sacred Heart. This past week we went south and west to stay at St. Philip Benizi in Belle Glade and visited St. Mary in Pahokee.
We prayed together, served at Masses, summer camps, parish social gatherings, Eucharistic adoration, retreats, youth groups, and assisted in particular needs of the parishes. It has been awesome to experience how God is working through the priests, deacons, religious, and parishioners of our diocese.
When we are touched by the wonder and love of God, respect the dignity of life from conception, through all stages of life, until natural death, we come to recognize that “no one is useless or insignificant.” Each and EVERYONE of us are a unique gift to the world that has never been nor will ever be again. Jesus has called us to himself with the purpose to send us out on mission. The time to be, to live, to love is now, for: “The kingdom of God is at hand” (Lk 10:9). Let us go forth this day as missionary people, as contemplatives in action, in peace, to glorify the Lord by our life.
Photo: We were blessed to spend the week assisting in the mission of Fr. Norbert at St. Philip Benizi in Belle Glade this past week.