Savvy travelers consult experts before beginning their journeys. They utilize a variety of travel aids such as guidebooks, maps, charts and schedules that help provide them with worry-free travel. Armed with tips, recommendations and cautions, these savvy travelers are prepared to enjoy journeys filled with many pleasant and memorable experiences.
In today’s gospel, Jesus listed detailed travel tips that became valuable and necessary guides for his disciples so that their mission efforts would be successful. They were told to travel lightly and to rely on the hospitality of those they were sent to serve. Instead of extensive planning, they were challenged to travel wherever they encountered others in need. Finally, they were to remain flexible, willing to be uprooted at any time for the sake of the mission. Trusting these guidelines, disciples have always responded to Jesus’ command to: “Go and make disciples of all nations.”
Down through the centuries, the need to travel on mission has reached the ears of many. Some have traveled across the globe, while others have spent a lifetime traveling the same route every day. Missionaries have always embraced the command that they were called upon to save and renew every person so that all things might be “restored in Christ,” and form one family and one people of God.” Every Christian is called to imitate Jesus’ single-hearted and undistracted commitment to bring the good news of salvation to others. This mission call was renewed again by the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on the Church’s Missionary Activity, published in December, 1965: “If the church is to be in a position to offer to all the mystery of salvation and the life brought by God, then it must implant itself among the various groups of humankind in the same way that Christ by his incarnation committed himself to the particular social and cultural circumstances of those among whom he lived.”
Until recently however, the vocation to travel on mission for Jesus was reserved primarily for the ordained clergy and professed religious. Others aided the Church’s mission call by their financial support However, Vatican II dramatically adjusted that view: “Laypeople live in ordinary circumstances of family and social life, which is where they are called by God. By their lifestyles, their work, their prayer, their family life, their leisure and entertainment and their hardships too, laypeople give witness to the light of Christ. The laity go forth as powerful proclaimers of faith.”
That call is heard at the end of each Eucharist, when all “are sent forth in peace to love and serve the Lord.” Our sincere, “Thanks be to God,” indicates our readiness to take up the journey to bring Jesus to others. Our mission travels may take us across the street or across the world, wherever we find people in need. We may not always be savvy travelers, but faithful travelers who know that God, who has called us to travel in trust and in hope, guides our mission journeys.
On those mission journeys we recall the direction given recently by Pope Frances: “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.”
Recognizing the great need, we embrace mission with open hearts, Listening ears, and our prayerful presence.
~ Deacon Wilson Shierk