Our call in the Church of Auckland in these days is to missionary discipleship. But that does raise the question what it is to be missionary in this place and time. We find some of the answers to this question in today’s Gospel.
In the opening verses we find that Jesus sends out his disciples ‘two by two’. Wherever we go or live, even though we might be on our own, in our deepest identity we are always members of the body of Christ. Because of this we are always there on behalf of the whole community of the faithful.
This isn’t something to obsess about, but it is something to remember. For the Church is not a community of Don Quixotes caught up in a series of individual missions to save the world, rather we all share in the same mission that originates with the sending of the Word.
Jesus tells his listeners many times that he and the Father are one and that he reveals the things he learnt from the Father. Similarly, we as members of Christ’s body, are sent out to bear witness to the Word’s mission as co-operators in God’s plan of salvation.
The sending out in twos mirrors the fact that God has sent his Son and his Spirit to reveal himself to us, something we have celebrated in the twin feasts of Pentecost and Holy Trinity in recent weeks. Just as this sending reveals God as a relationship of love so our preaching as a community is a powerful sign of divinely-inspired love. In a sense, love is the proper language of mission for it is the language of God. When we live in the world as members of the body of Christ we are cemented together by the Spirit of love.
It is a consoling thing to remember that through love we ultimately speak a language that is essentially not ours but given to us through God’s grace. Sometimes we don’t know what to say, or how to say it, or not know what to do, but to love is always the right thing to do. Often love can be expressed in service to our families, to our brothers and sisters in faith or to strangers. But love can also be expressed in patiently waiting for somebody to grow, in our being there for them. It takes time for a grain to germinate, to grow and to bear fruit. Sometimes being there and being ready for that moment can be a great part of our mission.
And we are always to remember that we are going ahead of the Lord, to the places that He will come to. We do our best, of course, but fortunately it does not depend entirely on us. So let us always remember to pray for the coming of the Lord into the lives of all those among whom we live.
Fr Chris Denham