By: Antoine, SX
What Newness do you see in this world Mission Month 2017? October is known by the millennials to be a happy and reaching out month. By the fact that it is challengingly bringing about new discoveries in the Church (now), October stresses the intensity of prayer, the missionary impulse in its multifaceted dimensions and the self-evaluation in the context. Entirely, it connects both the celebration of the season of Creation era, which starts on September 1st and ends on October 04 with the feast of St Francis of Assisi, and the World Mission Sunday, that the Church solemnly celebrates through her threefold view: renewal, conversion, and Dialogue. In this length of time, the people from all over the world in general and Christians particularly launch new experiences of God and strive to be one with the missionary Church, on the journey of faith and conversion. For us baptized, the WMM is as precious as it nourishes in us the desire to see, feel and recognize God’s deeper touch and fulfilled plan of salvation in the life of every human being. However, what really makes us be actively part of this renewal, conversion, and dialogue? Personally, I do believe that the re-connection with Jesus, the discernment based on God’s grace and living out solidarity can help us to fulfill this project as we rediscover God in our lives as missionary-Disciples. Thus, we will get in touch with God and neighbor; we will gaze on Jesus and feel the attractive appreciation from God Himself in our context; and we will respond satisfactorily to the needs and challenges of being missionary-disciples and the mission of our time. If you want to re-connect yourself with God, check in this threefold short reflection and say “Yes, I am proud to belong to CHRIST.”
Connect with Jesus. The great gift that we all have received is the indwelling grace of God. Many people are journeying in faith though hard but certain that they will reach out to the destiny. It is all about being in touch with Christ himself, the missionary, traveler and prime mover of both God’s loving heart and people’s awareness. He is proclaimed to be the gift of God to the humanity, the definitive revelation of the Father through whom we have access to God’s love in the Holy Spirit. This secret is only given to those who really consider the centrality of Christ and apply it to daily reality. As I recall, the Second Vatican Council sought to link its teaching into tradition when it spoke of Ressourcement (a return to foundational source) asking all of us to get focused on Christ and the Church. In the same way, Paul VI in Evangelii Nuntiandi held clearly the centrality of Christ when he soundly depicted that “there can be no true evangelization if the name, the teaching, the life, the promises, the Kingdom and the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God are not proclaimed.” How then to proclaim someone or something that one does not know? It might be difficult. To authentically do so requires a deep and sincere connection with Christ, the love that heals, alleviates and empowers the heart. Thus, love is the meat and substance of Jesus’ teaching and mission. In our missionary works, we try to witness to the same trait of the New Evangelization. The love of neighbor, poor and marginalized has always impelled us even at the risk of martyrdom. This mandate is fulfilled by showing new concerns that arise from our social life like Jesus who said, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few” (Mt. 9:37-38)
Discern the grace of God. Grace is the work of God in our daily life. It escapes our wordy descriptions and imaginations that, beyond all, grace stands and remains at work in us. It is so nice to recognize the time of grace in one’s life. Have you ever felt the moment when God self-communicates to you? Remember that time you first encountered God in your Gethsemane and you befriended Him; that time he called you by name that you fell down out of surprise and became blind from the brightness of his face, there, you were healed and converted from your old way of doing to the newness of Christian-missionary life. It is here that the experience of Saul of Tarsus enlightens our mind today, “have I not seen Jesus Christ the Lord? (1Cor 9: 1). Honestly, the awareness of God’s grace in your life should be that overwhelming feeling that you confess, finally, that God is truly with you. Just recall with me the floating boat leading to the shore where the Disciples recognized Jesus as a Savior (cf Mt 14, 30). The image of a floating boat helps us understand how grace works; but also depicts the image of the Church. God’s grace is at work in us when we journey with/in the mission of the entire Church. The Church is known for her being a pilgrimage, discerning, and discovering Church. It is in the Church that our commitments are expressed and God’s promises are fulfilled. Therefore, God’s grace brings us about the dynamism and ever-changing understanding of the Evangelization as a multi-faced process. For this reason, Pope Francis views the Evangelization holistically to be addressed with all its strategies and struggles, its hopes and aspirations, its strengths and weaknesses (EG183). Are you finding yourself to be part of this journeying Church’s mission? That is God’s grace in your heart and life, don’t just bear it. Rather, start your way to mission with Jesus.
Live out Solidarity; Solidarity is Christ’s mission perspective. Simply, it is one of the Christian values promoted and preached by the universal Church and word-cultures. In my view, He embodied the human nature and continuously saves the human race from the evil one by living out an authentic solidarity. In the same manner, good Christ’s imitators should step after Jesus’s way of life: Solidarity. The commonality of Christian life has really witnessed to and brought about self-denial, self-giving, and self-sacrifice to promote the otherness. Thus, solidarity is a creative power and strength that characterize the community settings. For instance, think of the basketball team players. As they pass the ball, they move on believing in the unitive effort of each teammate. The wanted success must be a community goal. Similarly, Pope Francis has taken this up in his TED2017 conference when he said, “Only by educating people to a true solidarity will we be able to overcome the ‘culture of waste,’ which doesn’t concern only food and goods but, first and foremost, the people who are cast aside by our techno-economic systems which, without even realizing it, are now putting products at their core, instead of people.”
Honestly, if we consciously consider ourselves as social beings, solidarity can easily lead us to the reality of the dreamed “Domestic Church,” where the family generates and nourishes children, a place where the Gospel is transmitted and from which it radiates. Are you starting the move toward your friends in a smooth and comfortable way? Has your family life become a concrete setting for community growth and increased solidarity? My Friend, let this be a concern today; that our way of life becomes the fruit of the change brought about by our connectedness to Christ, the Grace of God and our creative solidarity. My heartedly wish is that you make of this World Mission Month an opportunity of God’s visit to your inner home and let Him do the work with you.