We are all called to Mission. For more than 2,000 years missionaries have evangelized and obeyed the Great Commission. Just before his Ascension, Jesus instructed his apostles, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Mt 28:19-20)
From the early days of the Church Christians took the Lord’s command to heart and traveled all over the world. They encountered many barriers, such as language and culture, but they continued their work.
When the Holy Spirit calls us we must say yes. On January 25th we celebrated the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. Originally a persecutor of the Christians, the Lord spoke to Paul on the road to Damascus and told him to be his servant. Paul traveled all over the Greco-Roman world to preach Christ crucified. He grew weary at times, discouraged, even frightened but he knew God was with him
Many of our great Saints were missionaries. From St. Cyril and Methodius in the 860’s, to St Francis Xavier in the 1500s, to American born St. Katherine Drexel who helped the impoverished people of the American West in the 1850s.
Clergy, religious, and lay people continue to be active missionaries all over the globe. We send our clergy to other nations and they reciprocate by sending missionaries to America. Father M. Kumar OSFS at Our Lady of Good Counsel is a wonderful example of this. Fr. Kumar came to America 8 years ago. He learned English in seminary in India, with no expectation of coming to the United States. His original assignment in the United States was to Cape May, NJ. A far cry from his small village in the interior of India.
Just like the missionaries of old he had to learn a new culture, a new way of life. After 6 years at Our Lady Star of the Sea in Cape May, he was transferred to Our Lady of Good Counsel in Vienna, Virginia. Once again Father had to learn a different culture: a world of tall buildings, lots of traffic and a hustle bustle way of life.
This is mission in the modern world. Father Kumar says, “Today, mission is less about place and more about people. We talk much more about ‘being with’ rather than ‘doing for’. As a missionary today, you become a member of the community. You don’t come in to impose anything on someone. You come in to be with people, to understand what their hope and dreams are.”
We are also called to be missionaries. God has a plan for each of us. We may not travel to foreign lands but we can always witness to the Good News. Just like St. Paul, we can speak to God through prayer along our journey. When we get weary, discouraged, or frightened, God will be with us.