Jesus said “Love one another as I have loved you” – so where there is hatred we bring love, injury/pardon, despair/hope, sadness/joy, darkness/light, doubt/faith.
The original meaning of “church” is a gathering of the people and the name “church” was given to the building where they met. If the walls fell down we would still be the church, but do we come together for holy mass “in church” rather than “as church”? We know that bishops are constantly requested to “keep our church open” rather than “keep our church together”.
1. Mission is God – to whom we bring all creation.
2. Evangelisation is Jesus’ incarnation, the mission brought to earth where Jesus proclaimed the love of God by giving witness to that love in all he said and did.
3. Discipleship is for the people of God and baptism is a co-mission to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, evangelising and proclaiming the Gospel in serving others and being nourished by the power of the sacraments.
The Church does not have a mission: the Mission has a church. Parishes do not have a mission, the Mission has parishes. Each of us does not have a mission, the Mission has each of us. Discipleship is God’s work being done by those who have a commitment to Jesus. We cannot be true disciples if we do not live in a loving way.
Dietrich Bon Hoeffer, a German pastor, wrote: “Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field for the sake of which people will gladly go and sell all they have. It is the pearl of great price for which merchants will sell all their goods.
Grace is the Gospel to be sought again and again, the gift to be asked for, the door at which we must knock. Grace is costly because it cost the life of God’s son (“you were bought at a price”) and what has cost God so much cannot be cheap for us. God did not reckon the Son too dear a price to pay for our life but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.
There are thousands of ways to show love of God to others in our daily lives – the hand of friendship, practical support, meeting crisis situations with and for others. With patience, tolerance and perseverance loving people carry out God’s mission: may we who are Christians be known by our love.
Celebration of the Eucharist does more than gather people to mass. The community that gathers, to be spiritually nourished by Holy Communion and the Word of God, is a community that must then “scatter” in order to go on mission, evangelising as disciples in our Galilee (our world). Our loving Father will never ask us to do anything beyond our capabilities, but does ask us to live with wisdom, understanding, right judgement, courage, reverence, knowledge, awe and wonder. To be true disciples asks everything of us.
Mary stood at the cross united to her son. She is with us at the liturgy – in the penitential rite, in the Creed and in each of the Eucharistic prayers. God has given her to us as our “Perpetual Help”.
I am grateful to Vincent for what he has written and I hope you share my gratitude. We ask God’s blessing in our lives as disciples,
(4th December 2022)