One of the experts in Mission reflection in the Catholic tradition is Fr. Anthony Gittens, CSSp. He is an inspirational as well as powerful writer who has a number of excellent books that belong in every mission library. I would like to share with you some of his thoughts this day. This particular passage is from his book titled, A Presence that Disturbs, which I find very challenging. Just look at the title! Yes, Jesus was/is a presence that disturbs, but as a baptized and committed Christian, I inherit this mandate. We all do. Fr. Gittens writes:
“Mission ad gentes – to the ends of the earth and to people who have not yet hear the message of Christ – remains an imperative; but mission cannot be focuses only on the farthest reaches of the earth since all baptized Christians are to be involved and most cannot possibly engage in mission ad gentes. Everyone is called to proclaim – by word or witness, by liberation or through relationships – from the housetops or the streets, from the office or the schoolroom, from the home or the parish: from wherever they happen to be…Mission requires that the disciples be like the Master: a disturbing presence…” (p. 15)
During this time of sheltering in place, I have seen so many examples of people on mission by words and deeds, through relationships and liberation, not in the office or the schools, but certainly in the streets, in hospitals and tents, in cars and supermarkets, in so many ways that before COVID 19 were not as visible. May all of us become aware that although the seriousness of this pandemic has awakened us on so many levels, in the end, we are God’s children and to whomever we do to the least of our sisters and brothers, we do to God. Our never-ending mission is to be God’s words, God’s smile, God’s hands, God’s feet, God’s arms, God’s presence, and a disturbing one at that to remind the world that God’s love is what controls everything, especially in the mystery of suffering.
Nancy Schramm, osf