While I am away on my annual vacation, weekly Reflections will be presented for your consideration. —Msgr. Richard
Christ Sends Us Forth
In our modern world, many people have been asking a very important question: what is the mission of the church in the world today? There seem to be as many answers to this question as there are Christians: some would say it is “to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable,” others would say it is to “preserve truth,” others would say it to “to gather the people together,” and others would say other things altogether. The mission of the church seems to be a vague and multi-faceted reality. Indeed it is. All of these are true. We can lose focus on the church’s mission by reducing it to any one aspect.
The opening sentence of today’s Gospel is a sharp reminder of the fundamental nature of the mission of the church today: “Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits.”
“Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out.” First and foremost, the church always responds to the Lord Jesus. It is Christ Himself who summons us together; it is Christ Himself who sends us forth. It is the work of God that is being completednot our desires, not our charity. It is why the Lord Jesus tells the Twelve that they are to bring nothing with thembecause when we do the work of God, we must depend upon God alone. As soon as we start worrying about how to take care of things, how to fund things, how to provide for ourselves, we stop depending on God. Since Jesus summons us and sends us out, it is on Him we are to depend.
Jesus never sends out the Apostles all by themselves, but they are always sent in pairs or groups. Jesus tells us when two or three gather, He is present with them. Jesus knows that when we try to do it all by ourselves, we will fail. It is too hard to stay on target all alone. We need others; we need the church. The role of the church is to support one another in times of trial as well as celebrate in times of joy.
This Eucharist celebrates the mission of the church: we are summoned by the Lord Jesus in community to go forth and glorify the Lord with our lives. We receive and believe in Him so much that we are strengthened to proclaim our faith in Him. We are sent to announce the Good News to everyone we meet. We will bring the good news of salvation to those who have forgotten or rejected God.
—Matthew Luft, OSB
Father Luft is a monk of Saint John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota
and an adjunct instructor at the School of Theology at Saint John’s University.