[COLUMN] On fulfilling Christ’s mission

THE most intimate moments when Jesus would relate to his disciples were during meals. During these times, he would teach them and share his thoughts and sentiments with them.

But at his Last Supper, he did something more radical: he washed the mudded, calloused, and worn-out feet of his disciples. As he washed their feet, he urged them:

“If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet,

you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow

  so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

Aside from sharing himself as the “meal of sacrifice,” Jesus commanded his disciples to be his partners and collaborators in his mission of love, mercy, reconciliation, peace, and service to all people until the end of times.

What a privilege he gave his disciples!

In the same way, through Baptism and Confirmation, God calls us to be missionary disciples. But like the disciples, we might find ourselves unworthy of his calling. The truth is that Christ calls us despite our weaknesses and sinfulness.

We’re faulted, but we’re gifted and called to share in the mission of Christ in this world.

Christ needs us more in these challenging times of continuing health threats, war, economic hardship, indifference to faith, religion and church, and secularism.

What is required from us to be part of his mission?

First, it requires that we grow in the knowledge of Jesus: to know his heart and mind. And we know what is in his heart and mind. It is always to be united to his Father in love, to follow his will.

Friends, we cannot share in the mission of Christ if we don’t have a profound and personal relationship with Christ. And that comes only through prayer, study, and mediation of his words and teachings, and the reception of the life/giving Sacraments.

Second, it requires us to be courageous, which means to be vulnerable—to know and recognize our weaknesses but still not afraid to show up, serve and lead despite our shortcomings, self-doubts, and criticisms.

As Brene Brown contends, vulnerability is not winning or losing; it is the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness: it’s the measure of courage.

Third, as Pope Francis urges us, fulfilling Christ’s mission requires that “we immerse ourselves in the world with eyes open to its joys and sufferings and with hands calloused from sharing the everyday struggles of those around us.” It means that we are not apart or aloof but “in touch” and accountable. We cultivate solidarity with those who are neglected or marginalized.

To share in the mission of Christ requires the commitment to transcend ourselves to serve others—to serve some purpose greater than the self. So it is to say yes despite the complexity of humanity and the world.

Fourth, it requires the ability to enter into dialogue with people, to engage in fierce conversations about what is going on in our community, church, and the world.

Fierce conversation means robust, intense, passionate, honest, and  courageous conversations.

Finally, to share in Christ’s mission is to remain positive, to journey in hope and optimism, and to do our part to create a future worthy of our beliefs and values.

These are challenging tasks, but let’s keep in mind the words of St. Paul (Phil 4:13) that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us!

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Fr. Rodel “Odey” Balagtas is the pastor of Incarnation Church in Glendale, California.


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