10 Jul 2015
The Apostles weren’t the first ones sent by God into the world. Many, many others were sent before them: the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph; the prophets; angels; wives and children; grandchildren and a lot of other people. God has sent his people on mission for an unknown number of ages. And, of course, Jesus sends us.
We’re part of that vast flock of sheep that God sends into an even larger pack of wolves. God sent Jacob and his family into Egypt; and Jesus sends his Apostles and disciples down to this very day into the world around us. We’re here on a mission, as we heard yesterday. We’re in the world we live in because God needs us to be here—not so much to suffer, but to bring his goodness and light where there is sin and darkness.
We’re sent out, like St. Peter was sent out to tend and feed the Lord’s flock. We’re sent out to love our neighbors as ourselves. But if that’s all we get from Scripture today—and the message of Christ as a whole—we’d be missing the other half of our mission.
God says to Jacob: “I will make you a great nation. Not only with I go down to Egypt with you; I will also bring you back.” And Jesus says to his Apostles: “Do not worry about how you are to speak; the Spirit of your Father [will be] speaking through you.” And, if we still don’t hear the other half of our mission, the psalm lays it out very clearly: “Trust in the Lord; take delight in the Lord.”
The other half of our mission as disciples of Christ is to let God love us and then love him in return by trusting him and enjoying him. That’s the “Marian” dimension of our mission; Mary sits at the feet of Jesus the Teacher and she simply adores and loves him. Jesus sends us out into the world, for sure. But he also sends us to the Father by the power of the Spirit. And in order to actually “go out” on mission in the world, to love our neighbor, we have to first go to God and be loved.
The strength of Jacob and Joseph was God himself. The power behind the Apostles was God himself. The light that shines through Jesus is God himself. Fulfilling the mission, first, to let God himself be our light and our joy and our strength is what empowers us to then “go out” on mission in the world. The love with which we love ourselves and our neighbors is nothing other than the same love God pours out on us.
Before we can follow in the footsteps of St. Peter, or the Patriarchs, or the Apostles, we have to follow in the footsteps of Mary. Our mission begins not in “going out,” but in “sitting down.” Sitting down and learning to trust that God’s power and wisdom is sufficient for what we need to do in the world.