These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions…
Matthew 10:5 NRSV
Millennials on Mission: Emerging Women Leaders is a program I watched today on the Catholic network, EWTN. This program featured three millennial women who each told her story of faith while on a mission for Jesus Christ.
Katherine’s mission led to a career in women’s health care. While riding a bus in Chicago, she noticed the multitude of Planned Parenthood centers on the South side. That was an enlightening spiritual moment. It led her to be even more determined to work in this medical field. Her mission for Christ led her to South Africa, Cameron and to California teaching women about caring for themselves and their children.
Montse, an immigrant from Mexico, became a lawyer to assist those with legal issues. When she was a teenager, her brother died. She became angry and confused. She left the Catholic Church. Later when she started attending mass again and her faith was nurtured, she realized how much God loved her and how much she loved the Lord. With this inspiration, she had clarity and committment in her mission for the Lord with the vocation of a lawyer.
Laura, a blind young woman, told of her days at Swarthmore College. She gradually became disillusioned with her classmates’ arrogant lifestyle. After graduation, she became a social worker in Philadelphia and helped many clients receiving medicaid who struggled each day to survive. She later completed law school and argued cases in court. In her mission she realized there were moments of vulnerability where she had to rely on God’s strength and not on her own to move forward in mission.
Three millennials. Three women. Three Catholics. Three stories of faith. All three in mission for Christ through their vocations.
Being sent out in mission for the sake of Christ is today’s message from our gospel reading in St. Matthew chapter 10. Jesus sent his twelve disciples out on a mission with these instructions:
“Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans,
but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news.
‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers,
cast out demons. (verses 5 – 8)
Jesus knew that although his disciples were not always confident and trustworthy, he nonethless sent them out on mission for his sake. Now that’s grace. That is a gift. Jesus chose those disciples to represent him and his ministry to the people in the surrounding towns and villages. Jesus trusted them enough to have the twelve carry out the mission he began.
The disciples were not sent out to raise funds to set up an endowment in a Jerusalem bank. They were not sent out to advertize the selling of tables and chairs Jesus had made in his father’s carpenter’s shop. They were not sent out to have the Israelites sign up for the latest seminar on how to subvert Roman rule.
But on their mission, they were to proclaim the same message Jesus proclaimed about the good news of the kingdom of heaven. They were to do the same deeds of curing, raising, cleansing and casting out that Jesus had done. Jesus empowered them to speak and do just as he had done.
That empowerment from their Lord led the disciples to say and do things they thought they could never say or do. Their mission was inspiring, joyful and wonder-filled. Commissioned by their Lord for mission, the disciples experienced the strength and faith the Lord gave them.
Have we ever been commissioned by our Lord to be in mission for him? Certainly we have. In Holy Baptism we are not only claimed by Jesus to be his beloved children. We are not only named as members of the body of Christ. But we are also forgiven and set free to be his people in mission. We welcome the baptized in Holy Baptism to be “workers with us in the kingdom of God.” As workers in the kingdom of God, we pray and discern what God wants us to be and do in this world. We are sent out in mission.
We could say that we discern our calling or our vocation in life. And whatever our vocation, whatever our occupation, whatever our job, we are in mission for the Lord as we faithfully use our strength and skills in our society for Christ’s sake. More than that, our calling as parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, mentors are also missions in our lives that we lovingly and graciously carry out.
We are not in mission alone. We do not have to rely on our knowledge or skill set alone to be in mission for our Lord. The Lord Jesus Christ does not forsake us. He is always by our side. He leads us and guides us. He strengthens and nurtures our faith with the promised Holy Spirit.
Just before Jesus gave instructions to his disciples for mission, he told them,
The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord
of the harvest to send out laborers into his vineyard.” (Matthew 9:38, 39 NRSV)
Do we hear the voice of the Lord calling us to be in mission for him? This hymn text reminds us of mission:
Hark, the voice of Jesus calling, ‘Who will go and work today?’
Fields are white and harvests waiting, Who wil bear the sheaves today?”
Loud and long the master calls you; Rich reward he offers free.
Who will answer, gladly saying, ‘Here am I. Send me, send me.’ (public domain)
At the end of St Matthew’s gospel, Jesus promised, And lo, I am with you always to the end of the age. With this promise, we answer, Yes, Lord. I will go. Yes, Lord, I will work for you. Yes, Lord, fill me with the Holy Spirit so that I receive the joy of mission in your name.
Thanks be to God.
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