My Sister and Brother Are My Life

The Gospel reading for today, Mark 4.13-21, is a strikingly Mark in style – brief, to the point, and yet covering the topic completely. He establishes the essential interplay between my personal profession of faith in the risen Lord and the salvation of others. Discipleship is not individualistic. It is personal which means that in order for it to be about me in any meaningful way it must be about you and you and you too!

My salvation is interwoven with the work of Christ Jesus to save others. My life of transformation is not just about me. It is about others. Mine and yours is a saving witness. Salvation is about true personhood and true humanity and the true heaven and earth. The right (saving) relationship between “I” and “we.”(Orthodox theologian Metropolitan John D. Zizioulas has written about this in several books. Fr. Stephen Freeman reflects on the work Zizioulas has done in this regard on his blog.)

All of this is about the essential nature of missional expression to the healthy life of discipleship. (There is no need to limit it to this expression and no need to exclude it from this expression. No need to engineer it in either direction…)

If you haven’t guessed it, this means that the heart of the message of evangelism is the message of the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation in life-giving actuality. Listen to that statement and hear the deep mystery that the saving message is the recovery of and living out of authentic personhood in and through and as Christ Jesus by grace. All of our “sacred vocabulary” and interpretive operations are defined by and made possible by the mystery of the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation not as doctrines but as articulations of actual life-giving relationship(s). The Holy Trinity and the Incarnation are to be lived at the dinner table, on the bus, at the ball field, not argued about in ivory towers. These are simply ways of speaking of authentic life — the best way to live life. The theologian is the woman and man who struggles faithfully to live out the “practical mysteries” not the “impractical doctrines.” (Tragically, that is what they are understood to be for many — “impractical doctrines”.)

Pope Francis reflects on the missionary aspect of my journey of salvation.

“Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.”
Evangelization takes place in obedience to the missionary mandate of Jesus: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28,19-20)… The risen Christ sent his followers to preach the Gospel in every time and place, so that faith in him might spread to every corner of the earth.

The word of God constantly shows us how God challenges those who believe in him “to go forth”. Abraham received the call to set out for a new land (Gen 12,1-3). Moses heard God’s call: “Go, I send you” (Ex 3,10) and led the people towards the promised land . To Jeremiah God says: “To all whom I send you, you shall go” (Jer 1,7)… All of us are called to take part in this new missionary “going forth”. Each Christian and every community must discern the path that the Lord points out, but all of us are asked to obey his call to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the “peripheries” in need of the light of the Gospel.

The Gospel joy which enlivens the community of disciples is a missionary joy. The seventy-two disciples felt it as they returned from their mission (Lk 10,17). Jesus felt it when he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit… This joy is a sign that the Gospel has been proclaimed and is bearing fruit. Yet the drive to go forth and give, to go out from ourselves, to keep pressing forward in our sowing of the good seed, remains ever present. The Lord says: “Let us go on to the next towns that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out” (Mk 1,38)… In fidelity to the example of the Master, it is vitally important for the Church today to go forth and preach the Gospel to all: to all places, on all occasions, without hesitation, reluctance or fear. Source

Let us pray…

O God of truth and love, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, hear our prayer for those who do not know You, that they may come to a saving knowledge of the truth and that Your Name may be praised among all peoples of the world. Sustain, inspire, and enlighten Your servants who bring them the Gospel. Bring fresh vigor to wavering faith; sustain our faith when it is still fragile. Grant them wisdom and courage to proclaim Your message effectively, to endure the hardships they face, to trust in Your mercy, and to see all their sufferings as part of the suffering Your dear Son Jesus Christ endured on the cross and let the joy of the Holy Spirit working in their lives ever strengthen them in their resolve to see Christ proclaimed in every nation. Continually renew missionary zeal in ourselves and in the Church, and raise up new missionaries who will follow You to the ends of the world. Make us witnesses to Your goodness, full of love, of strength and of faith, for Your glory and for the salvation of the entire world. Through the Prayers of St. Paul, Saints Cyril and Methodius, St. Rostislav of Moravia, St. Maxym Sandovich, St. Herman of Alaska, St. Innocent the Enlightener and all the missionary saints, have mercy on us and save us. Amen. Source

And

Christ our God, the source of wisdom and  Bridegroom of the Church, You called the Apostles to follow You and to become fishers of men, giving them authority to cast out unclean spirits and to heal every disease and infirmity.

You commissioned them to make disciples of all  nations and to feed your sheep. On the day of Pentecost, You sent the Holy Spirit to fortify them, enabling them to fill peoples lives with Your saving love. Continue to act today, loving Savior, for the good of Your Holy Church.  Send Your Holy Spirit upon dedicated men and women; inspire them to respond to Your Great Commission and to serve You as missionaries, for the building up of Your Body, the Church.

Through the prayers of all the holy missionary Saints, strengthen all who are preparing to serve Your Holy  Church in humility and love.  For You are a loving and merciful God, and unto You we give glory, together with Your eternal Father, and Your all-holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now and forever and unto ages of ages.  Amen. Source

 

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