Mission and meaning

What do Jesus, major corporations, the military, political parties… and oh, you and I, have in common?

How many of you scratched your heads for a minute trying to find the common element… or understood immediately what the common element is? The common element is a mission, meaning or purpose.

Of course, the purpose of each of the above is quite different. But make no mistake about it. Each has a purpose. And that purpose gives each its life’s meaning.

When it comes to a personal rather than a corporate mission there is nothing more important than realizing one’s purpose in life. Peace comes from working to fulfill that purpose. Sometimes any one of the above can lose sight of that mission or purpose. But it is truly tragic when a person has no sense of mission to something bigger than himself or herself. Then life has no meaning.

Jesus’ mission statement and the Vincentian mission

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19). This was his mission from his Father. This is what he dedicated his life to.

Everything that he did was governed by his sense of mission. His sense of mission gave meaning to his suffering and death. Ultimately his mission was fulfilled in his resurrection.

Vincent, Louise and so many others who have followed Christ the Evangelizer of the Poor have found their ultimate meaning in life in this mission of Jesus.

At some level, each man or woman drawn to the Vincentian vision of following Christ the evangelizer of the poor has recognized his or her inclusion in the mission embraced by Jesus.

9 Ways Pope Francis invites us to look at our mission

This Sunday is World Mission Sunday and each year Popes have suggested reflections on the many meanings of mission. Pope Francis is no exception. May I offer you some excerpts from his message for World Mission Sunday 2018. As you read them I ask you read them in the light of this question…Do you believe these words of Pope Francis?

  • The Christian faith remains ever young when it is open to the mission that Christ entrusts to us.
  • Every man and woman is a mission; that is the reason for our life on this earth.
  • Each one of us is called to reflect on this fact: “I am a mission on this Earth; that is the reason why I am here in this world” (Evangelii Gaudium, 273).
  • To be attracted and to be sent are two movements that our hearts, especially when we are young, feel as interior forces of love; they hold out promise for our future and they give direction to our lives. More than anyone else, young people feel the power of life breaking in upon us and attracting us.
  • This transmission of the faith, the heart of the Church’s mission, comes about by the infectiousness of love, where joy and enthusiasm become the expression of a newfound meaning and fulfillment in life.
  • The spread of the faith “by attraction” calls for hearts that are open and expanded by love. It is not possible to place limits on love, for love is strong as death (cf. Song 8:6).
  • How many young people find in missionary volunteer work a way of serving the “least” of our brothers and sisters (cf. Mt 25:40), promoting human dignity and witnessing to the joy of love and of being Christians! These ecclesial experiences educate and train young people not only for professional success but also for developing and fostering their God-given gifts in order better to serve others.
  • These praiseworthy forms of temporary missionary service are a fruitful beginning and, through vocational discernment, they can help you to decide to make a complete gift of yourselves as missionaries.
  • Let me repeat the words of encouragement that I addressed to the young people of Chile: “Never think that you have nothing to offer, or that nobody needs you. Many people need you. Think about it! Each of you, think in your heart: many people need me” (Meeting with Young People, Maipu Shrine, 17 January 2018).

Questions about my mission

  • How conscious am I of the mission and meaning of my life?
  • Am I aware that I share in the mission Jesus accepted from the Trinity?
  • How consistent are my actions with the overarching mission that Jesus entrusted to each of us?

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