Faith is a seed that is sown in the human hearts which breaks, sprouts and grows into a huge tree which later brings about fruits in the life of a person and in the lives of people who are related to him. This seed needs to be sown so that it sprouts. The seeds need to be in the hands of people who can explore the fertile land and sow the seeds at the right time and in a proper way. The gospels very clearly state that the seeds are the Words of God. Every Word that comes out of the mouth of God is potentially one that can bring about faith in the receiver and bear fruits.
In the catholic scenario the Word of God is entrusted to the missionary to sow in every corner of the world. These missionaries are chosen by God and sent out to preach the Word, share their experience of being with the Lord (Mk 3:14). They remain with the Lord, their master for a period of time and then are equipped with the capabilities needed to preach the kingdom of God. They receive the Word of God as a gift , cherish it and then go out to change the world by sowing the seeds of faith. It is in this sense that the ‘cultivation of faith’ becomes a meaningful usage. God chooses people who separate themselves from the world and are owned by God himself. They become missionaries when they are sent out into distant lands and cultures to sow the seeds of the kingdom of God.
Mission of Christ
The mission of Jesus was the mission of the Father in heaven. This mission was nothing but the salvation of the entire humanity. Father in heaven designed the salvation of the mankind through the passion, death and resurrection of his only begotten son, Jesus. “God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3:16). Salvation of the humanity is the mission of the Father and his only Son. Father didn’t want anyone to be lost or perished; therefore, he took the extreme step of sacrificing his only begotten son. The ransom that the Father paid for human salvation was his only son. The cost that Jesus paid in order to make this salvation a reality was his own blood. He poured it out from the cross on Calvary. The mission of the salvation of humankind is basically rooted in the love that Father has for mankind and the love that his son Jesus has for every human being; for you and for me.
God commenced the fulfillment of his promise of salvation in the human history in a tangible way. God had promised to his chosen people, Israel that he would save them from all the slavery and would own them up one day as his own. This promise was being fulfilled when Mary was approached by angel Gabriel and the will of God was revealed to her. The content of the mission of God the Father and the mission of Jesus were nothing but the salvation of mankind promised thousands of years ago. Mission of Christ is the mission of the church today. When the Lord rose again from the dead and ascended into heaven, this mission of the Father and the Son was handed over to the community of disciples, whom Jesus had chosen while he went about preaching the love of his Father. In this sense, every missionary receives his/her call from the church. God chooses one, Christ commissions him/her and the church appoints. It is a procession of the power from God the Father to the missionary that s/he goes out to preach the kingdom of heaven.
Missionaries after the model of Christ
According to the teachings of the church, every baptized person is a missionary in nature. The second council of Vatican affirmed this principle. So the missionary work of the church is not simply attributed to just these missionaries alone but spread to the entire Christendom. Every Christian has the responsibility to tell the world that God loves them and spread His word. This experience of the love of God comes to a person when s/he is baptized and receives the heavenly blessings in and through the sacraments in the church. This is the general sense of missionary; every baptized person is if so facto a missionary.
Every missionary is called to be one so aft er the model of Christ the greatest missionary of all. Every missionary looks upon Christ as his/her role model in the mission of the kingdom. Christ was sent by the Father with a definite propose; so also is a missionary sent with a definite purpose and that is the salvation of the mankind. There is no other purpose; or rather there shall be no other purpose for the mission of the church.
The modus operandi of the mission of the church is the same as that was of Jesus, the first missionary from God. He went out to the people, so are the missionaries exhorted to go out to the people. Jesus preached to the people who gathered around him about the love Father has for them. So also a missionary is expected to preach about the love God has for the entire human kind. He proved his words to be true by the power of the Holy Spirit and through the miracles he performed. Every missionary is called upon to prove the Word of God that s/he preaches through the powerful interventions of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the people entrusted to their care.
Missionaries in Catholic Church
Th e Catholic Church in the entire universe has more than a few lakhs of missionary personnel working in the vineyard of the Lord through the breadth and width of the planet. All of them have been called by God from the world, from defi nite life situations and separated, separated for the cause of the kingdom of God. Th ey have been stamped by the Holy Spirit and marked for ever to be the signs of the love of God. Th ey leave their families, their kith and kin, all for the sake of the kingdom of God. Th eir rewards are immaterial, not tangible, yet they toil to their last breath for the fulfi llment of the mission that the Lord, their master kicked off . We are deeply indebted to the missionaries all over the world because it is of them the word of God has reached many corners of the world. If we take a look all the civilizations in the world, one can see these missionaries shed their sweat and blood for the upcoming of those civilizations. Our indebtedness to this sacred group of missionaries is to be expressed through love and prayer. May our daily prayers include the welfare of the missionaries all over the world!
Fr Rajesh Puthusserry