How about Lent?
This year Advent shot by so fast because the Fourth Sunday of Advent was also Christmas Eve.
Stay tuned for ideas to enjoy the Best Lent Ever
The connection between being sent and being with - secrets of
There is a story about a synagogue in decline. The baffled rabbi of this aging congregation sent
emissaries to a famous monk for advice. After
hearing of their distress, the wise monk went off to pray. The next morning when they returned, the monk
whispered five words of advice - "The Messiah is among you." and bid them farewell.
The emissaries were not sure if they fully understood this
message, but they were overjoyed by the promise and brought it back to their
rabbi, each one wondering who the Messiah might be. Almost imperceptibly, the promise that one in
this community was the Messiah, changed the way they treated one another.
There was a new vitality in
the group. Worship grew in passion and
purpose. The congregation began
to attract people who wanted to join in their ministries of caring and compassion, which
touched people well beyond the community. The
secret to their success? Simply a joy for
God's presence, which was there all along.
What about us? Are we
not the body of Christ? Are we not an
Easter and Eucharistic people, who know that ALL people are God's people? Any reading of the Gospel reveals that Jesus
displayed a divine generosity and He spent most of his time with
those least likely to be at church. Hospitality
is the hallmark of anyone moved by joy for the Gospel.
Joy for the Gospel is much more than right belief and right
behavior. It is an act of self-donation
to God's merciful plan for all people. Missionary
disciples see the church, not as a refuge from the world, but as a campaign
headquarters for a mission in the world. Sabbath is when we pause and prepare for that campaign, which is either won or lost off church property. Therefore,
parish is not a building but a mission field.
A missionary people listens to the signs of the times. They break open God's Word and give witness
to their joy and hope at times, and in spaces, that are convenient and comfortable to outsiders
and newcomers. They gather to praise God
before being sent out, two by two (Lk.
10) and establish small groups which, by design, receive and welcome newcomers.
When Pope Francis insists that we are either missionaries or
imposters, he is calling our attention to these divine realities. Do our catechists only address those who come
to classes? Do our homilies only echo in
the hearts of regular church goers? Does everyone at church see themselves as an ambassador of welcome to newcomers and visitors? Do
our youth ministers and campus ministers spend an inordinate amount of their
time and energy with those who already belong, believe and behave as we expect?
The mission of those who are saved is to be sent (the definition
of "apostle"). Missionaries realize that
God has some that churches do not, and that churches have some that God does
not. Apostles are sent to be with those least likely to like us. What steps
can you take to journey closer to Christ in your own life? And what about your parish - do you sense a joy for the Gospel? If you are wondering what this missionary discipleship looks like view this schema for what Pope Francis calls a Missionary Discipleship and find where you are along the road...
These sites are not an endpoint, but rather a first step toward encountering, following, finding joy with Christ in your life, and sharing Christ with others. Read through the sites, reflect and pray on what you see. Then act! If you feel so inspired, you may will wish to share something with a close friend, and perhaps ask them to consider how much better life can be with Christ.