Every time I heard of the word missionary – this comes to my mind. A person puts behind his family, his possessions, his life, puts on rugged brown clothes and scandals, moves to a country stricken with poverty and devotes himself to doing good. These are the people I read about in Catholic news or in books. Then I get this 10 seconds of good-feelings and think, “Wow these people are amazing and so inspiring! But they are different…they are really holy and so close to God. Besides, I have a family, I am responsible for them. I have a job….”
Well, somehow this big word missionary just seems so overwhelming to me. I mean, even Google agrees with me. Below is what I find when I google image ‘missionary’:
But guess what, it turns out that in the bible, it is clearly stated that all of us – (Yes, ALL) that in virtue of our baptism, we are all missionary disciples.
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28: 19-20
But here comes the big question – obviously not all of us are called to pack our bags (or rather leave everything behind) and scoot off to live with the poor. So how can we be missionary disciples for Jesus?
Missionary discipleship – an active choice to respond to God’s love
Before we even speak of being a missionary disciple, we perhaps could ponder about how we can be a disciple of Christ. Being a disciple of Christ is really a response to God’s love. Imagine this – if we don’t experience God’s love, if we don’t actively choose to respond to God’s love, how could we act like a true disciple of Christ? If you want to know how hard it is, just wait until the next time you receive a nasty email or the next time you drive on the road…I know exactly how unloving I can be!
Yeah yeah, I know I have to be good, I have to listen to God. But of course we do falter sometimes and we find ourselves listening to the world instead of God. Perhaps we could relate to some of the below that hinders us from being a true disciple:
- Pride / spiritual pride
- Disordered desire for money
- Disordered desire for power
- Disordered relationship priorities
- Need for control
The list could go on. But it is a good start to do the examen, recognize our failures, pray to God for strength to overcome them and stay accountable to your prayer / spiritual companions.
Embrace trials & struggles
It is also crucial to recognize that no life (whether you are a missionary disciple or not) is free of trials and struggles. The difference then is that a true disciple of Jesus allows oneself to be vulnerable and accepts all crosses, whether for oneself or for others with full trust in God.
Invitation to new life
And it is through that, that we allow Jesus to transform us in our tribulations. With that, we now accept the invitation to new life – one with God’s love. Basking in God’s love, how could we then contain this joy and blessing that we found? Will it not then be natural to share it with the whole world – whether in words or in how we lead our lives?
And with that, in our little ways, when we treat somebody with kindness, when we introduce Jesus to a child, when we truly walk the talk as we proclaim to others our love for God – that is when we can become a true missionary disciple of Jesus.