Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Mission Man, of Happy Memory...

Six years ago today, I had the unbelievable grace of being in Rome for the Jubilee celebration for Missionaries. A World Mission Congress gathered hundreds of missionaries and mission educators from around the world. We had a few days of meetings, prayed together, shared stories, ate pasta and some real gelati, and finally came to a closing liturgy in St. Peter's Square for World Mission Sunday.

This Mass was celebrated by Pope John Paul II. As a remembrance of the first missionaries, the Twelve Apostles, twelve men and women were chosen to receive a simple mission cross from the Pope and commissioned "to bring Jesus back to your country." I was given the amazing and unexpected grace to be selected as one of those twelve souls, representing the United States of America!

That moment of kneeling before Pope John Paul II, a man I consider a spiritual father, and hearing the prayers and songs of over 80,000 people in St. Peter's Square will never fade from my memory. It was there at the feet of Peter that I believe the seed was planted for the Mission Moment ministry. My goal (and every Christian's goal) should simply be to bring Jesus to the world, one word, one step, one moment at a time.... to open eyes to the wonder of faith, and the beauty of grace that comes streaming down from the Cross. Witness to the reality that we are loved. Deeply and unconditionally loved.

This can translate itself into your life in a million different ways. It does not have to be some elaborate program, this sharing of the gospel, but a simple daily "yes" to Grace.

I think of Pope John Paul II, and of how he lived the mission. It was so much deeper than mere words for him, more than meetings and encyclicals, and apostolic letters. What do people say who had the chance to meet him? "He looked me in the eyes, and I felt peace." Is there any other way to live the gospel? Is there any other action that says "Jesus" than this look of love?

Life is complex, but living is utterly simple.

Look with love. Listen with love. Open up to receive Love. Empty yourself now to give that Love away. This is the essence of mission. It's the movement of Love. And each of us is given so many mission moments in our life. Tomorrow is a Monday morning (for some it's a Tuesday ;) When and where will we be given a moment of grace? May we have the same grace to recognize and respond!

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