One of the often referred teaching from the Second Vatican council is about the missionary vocation of all the baptized. Pope Francis in his first apostolic exhortation, “Joy of Gospel,” explains this theme very beautifully. According to him, among the followers of Christ we cannot make a distinction between “disciples” and “missionaries.” As Christians we are always “missionary disciples of Christ.” In virtue of our baptism, all of us have become missionary disciples of Christ.
Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the mercy of God in Christ Jesus. In the gospels we find that all those who encountered Jesus, went forth to proclaim him joyfully: “We have found the Messiah!” (Jn 1:41). The Samaritan woman became a missionary immediately after speaking with Jesus and many Samaritans come to believe in him “because of the woman’s testimony” (Jn 4:39). So too, Saint Paul, after his encounter with Jesus Christ, “immediately proclaimed Jesus” (Acts 9:20; cf. 22:6-21). “The love of Christ urges us on” (2 Cor 5:14); “Woe to me if I do not proclaim the Gospel” (1 Cor 9:16). In the same way as Christians each of us are called to be missionary disciple of Christ.
How are we to fulfill this missionary responsibility of ours? Jesus himself is the model. Following Jesus, we are called to enter fully into the structure of the society, and be close to everyone, by sharing the lives of the people around us, by listening their concerns and by helping them materially and spiritually. All of us are called to offer others an explicit witness to the saving love of the Lord, who despite our imperfections offers us his closeness, his word and his strength, and gives meaning to our lives. We do this not as burdensome duty, but as the result of a personal decision which brings us joy and meaning to our lives.
We are called to live our lives with a sense of a mission with the conviction that I have a mission to be accomplished. We should not reduce this sense mission to our “personal and material” successes alone. When we try to live out a spirituality of drawing nearer to others and seeking their welfare, our hearts are opened wide to the Lord’s greatest gifts. It enriches our mind and heart, it opens up spiritual horizons and makes us more and more sensitive to the working of God’s spirit in us and through us. Our life grows and matures in the measure that it is offered up in order to give life to others.
If we wish to lead a dignified and fulfilling life, we have to reach out to others and seek their good. Life grows by being given away, and it weakens in isolation and comfort. Indeed, those who enjoy life most are those who leave security on the shore and become excited by the mission of communicating life to others. Every person we meet around us is God’s creation, in whom God is present and in whom God’s glory is reflected; appearance notwithstanding. Therefore, if we can help at least one person to have a better life, that already justifies our Christian vocation to be a missionary disciple of Christ.
About the Author:
Fr. Binoy Puthusery, C.M. is a Vincentian priest belonging to the Southern Indian Province. He was ordained as priest on December 27, 2008 and soon after served as an assistant parish priest in Tanzania. In 2011, after two years of ministry, he was appointed as Spiritual Director to the Vincentian Sisters of Mercy, Mbinga Tanzania, where he still is today.