There has been much written about mission and we frequently hear the term used within our ministries and in society more generally. Ultimately, when we talk about mission– we are talking about God’s mission – it transcends place and time – it is not owned by any one group or religious tradition – God’s eternal call to justice, compassion and right relationships has always existed and to use Noel Connolly’s words, mission is our participation as individuals, groups and ministries in God’s existence in the world (www.catholicaustralia.com.au).
Pope Francis in his encyclical Evangelii Gaudium (2013) urges us all to be more than ‘mere administrators’ instead to be ‘permanently in a state of mission’.
How do we know then what it means to participate in God’s existence in the world? How can we be in a permanent state of mission? Jesus gave us a ‘way’ – teachings, examples and ways of living that bring about the presence of God in our midst. His teachings emphasise right relationships with God, ourselves, others and the whole of creation and the actions which sustain these – love, compassion, forgiveness, peace, humility and mercy, to name but a few. The Gospels are filled with examples of how Jesus expressed God’s love and compassion: the story of the Good Shepherd searching for the one that was lost, the parable of the lost son whose father saw him afar and ran to meet him and welcome him home, the example of the Good Samaritan.
In addition, we have Jesus’ own words on his ministry call:
‘… God has anointed me to preach good news to the poor… to proclaim release to the captives and recovering sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed …’.
Hence, the template for mission is clear and it is rooted in human behaviours and attitudes which bring life and freedom for everyone. To participate in mission, in God’s presence in the world is to live in love, gratitude, compassion and justice. To be in a permanent state of mission is to do this not as an add-on to our other life but as our very nature.