Most U.S. dioceses during the summer months invite missionary orders and congregations to speak at their parishes to appeal for prayers and financial support. A missionary priest will be here at Transfiguration parish next weekend, July 29 and 30. No doubt he will inform us of the work of evangelization being done by members of his community and will share some stories about the people and places where they currently minister.
Jesus gave His disciples a mission and a ministry. He sent them, in other words, to preach and heal, to proclaim and witness to the Good News of God’s presence among us and of God’s ongoing love for His people. That is the mission given to us at Baptism; it is the ministry to which we all are privileged to commit ourselves. How we the Church fulfill this ministry may vary from person to person depending on the circumstances of our lives. Essentially, the work of being a missionary is just to BE WHERE GOD SENDS US, and there to witness (BE) GOD’S PRESENCE, CARE AND COMPASSION for our sisters and brothers in the human family. Some individuals may be able to do tasks that are more functional, for example, work in food pantries, or assist in the construction of houses with Habitat for Humanity, or serve as a catechist in the parish Rel. Ed. Program, etc. Others may practice their missionary calling in their compassionate and care-giving relationships among the people with whom they live and socialize. Whatever we do, our MISSION is one and the same’ it is our privilege and responsibility of living our Baptismal life in the Body of Christ. Yes, there are lay people along with clergy and religious men and women who volunteer to serve the needy in foreign countries or in their own country although away from their home and family. But wherever we may hear God call us to BE, our mission is to proclaim and witness the Gospel message. May we do this ministry generously and graciously, remember the Lord’s promise to us, “I will be with you all days, even to the end of the world.”
There is no doubt in my mind that Transfiguration parish has the awareness and the commitment to the mission of the Gospel. I saw this the first day I arrived here. The Vacation Bible School, the work being done in the food pantry, the visiting and ministry to the sick, the care of the beautiful grounds and buildings on this campus, just to name a few examples, proclaims the dedication and missionary spirit of our parishioners. For me this is “beauty.” In my way of thinking, beauty is the confluence and the congruence of differences. The many different members of this parish community, the many backgrounds and cultures they represent, together show forth the grandeur and goodness of our gracious God. Our parishioners proclaim the presence and goodness of God as a people on a mission, as children of a loving Father who bids people as a people of every race and nation to live at peace and in joy, bringing hope and healing to a weary and wounded world. May God give us His grace to keep up the generous work we have begun.