June, July and August are the time when missionaries from other countries come to the Archdiocese of Chicago to do mission appeals. This effort is part of the Catholic Church’s international program called the Missionary Cooperation Plan (MCP). Representatives from various mission causes do appeals to ask for our monetary support, but they also seek to remind us of our vocation as missionary disciples and to ask for our prayers. John Paul ll, in his encyclical letter, The Mission of the Redeemer (RM) wrote:
All particular churches…are called to give and to receive in the context of the universal mission, and none should be closed to the needs of others. I exhort all the churches, and the bishops, priests, religious and members of the laity to be open to the Church’s universality, and to avoid every form of provincialism or exclusiveness, or feelings of self-sufficiency. (85).
We are being called to widen and deepen our participation in the universal missionary efforts of the church to make Christ known and loved among people all over the world.
Even in parishes that have built up special relationships with parishes or dioceses in other countries it’s important to keep widening our fields of awareness of people from countries about which we have little awareness and knowledge. Mission appeals are one way this can be accomplished.
One of the fringe benefits for us who meet missionaries and hear them speak in our parishes is that this awakens us to our own call to be missionary disciples in our own context. By reason of our baptism all of us are called to share in the mission of Christ in the world. Our faith though deeply personal, is not private. Too many have “bought into” the American cultural lie that faith should be relegated to the time we spend in Church on Sunday. This myth has no place in our call to be witnesses to the presence of Christ in our world.
At Baptism we became members of the community of the Trinity. The Trinity is a sending community in which the Father sends the Son, the Son sends the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit sends us. Because our life is rooted in the life of the Trinity “the Church cannot withdraw from her permanent mission of bringing the Gospel to the multitudes” (RM 31). Only in Christ do we find true freedom, peace and meaning. Once we have experienced life in Christ we want everyone to know and love him.
The challenge to us is to deepen our relationship with Christ so that we will take seriously our missionary vocation. Indeed some will be called to go to other peoples and cultures on mission, but all of us are called to be on mission here in our neighborhoods, workplaces, schools and in all the circumstances of our lives.
Be on mission wherever you are!
If you would like to know more about the Office for Mission Education and Animation, please visit our website at missions.archchicago.org