What is Mission? Who Is a Missioner?

(Reflections of a Maryknoll Priest)

The word mission comes from the Latin work mittere, meaning to send. The English word, then, carries the meaning of being sent, or the objective or purpose for one being sent.

In the context of the Church, the word mission first of all relates to Jesus, who, as the Son of God was sent by God the Father. Jesus was very conscious of his having been sent by the Father. However, the meaning of the word mission relates not only to the action of being sent, but it also relates to purpose of Jesus’ being sent. In other words, we can say, yes, Jesus was sent, but for what? What was, therefore, His Mission?

Jesus often spoke of, and reflected on, his Mission during his public life, as recorded in the Gospels. In essence, Jesus was sent by the Father to accomplish our Redemption through his death and resurrection; and to proclaim the Good News (that is what the word Gospel means) that God loves us, and, indeed, that God loves all of humankind. The Son of God, Jesus Christ, therefore, was sent not only to proclaim this Good News, but also to effect it, through his suffering, death and resurrection.

Saint Peter speaks with regard to this Good News to the early Church, as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 6). On the occasion of Pentecost, Peter stated: “Let the whole House of Israel know beyond any doubt that God has made both Lord and Messiah this Jesus, whom you have crucified.” Then Peter went on to speak with regard to the consequences of this. “You must reform and be baptized, each one of you,” he said, “in the name of Jesus Christ, that your sins may be forgiven; then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit!”

Jesus, in fact, has entrusted us with his own Mission. His words are clear: “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you!”(John 20:21). Jesus established the Church precisely to carry on his work his work of Redemption in history, and to proclaim “to the ends of the earth” that God is a forgiving and loving God!

The fact that two thirds of the world's population today have not heard the Good News of Jesus Christ, even as we have entered the Third Millennium, should be particularly challenging to the Church, and to all of its members. This is so especially as we open our ears and hearts to the great Commission Jesus gave to the early Church, and continues to give to us today: “Go, therefore, to the whole world, and proclaim the Good News to all creation!” Indeed, we are sent to bring the Good News of God’s love to all. We all share in the Mission of Jesus Christ, and, therefore, each of us who are baptized and claim to be a disciple of Christ, are missioners.

Rev. Father Thomas J. Marti, MM
April - 2000

Vocation Director
Maryknoll Fathers & Brothers
P O Box 304
Maryknoll, New York 10545-0304
Tel. (914) 941-7590
e-mail: tmarti@maryknoll.org
web: www.maryknoll.org


Are you being called to the Priesthood?