27. Sent Out

To find yourself you are going to have to lose yourself. The community that gathers to be nurtured by word and sacrament is then sent out. Union with Christ is to be lived. Through your union with Christ the whole of your life is being drawn into your relationship with God. Every aspect of it becomes an offering worthy of God. Unless it comes to this, we are worshiping God only with our lips.

At the supper Jesus had with his apostles on the night before he died, he told them he was about to give his life for them:

This is my body given up for you…my blood poured out for many…Do this in memory of me. (Luke 22:19-20)

In this way, his love would become present in the lives of his followers. Augustine put it nicely: “when we receive the body and blood of Christ we become what we receive.” We become the body “given up for others”. We become the blood or life “poured out for others”. Our “holy communion” involves this commitment. You are your true self - a gift to others - most of all when you are the body of Christ, when his self-giving is embodied in your self-giving.

In your life, his mission is made present today:

He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day as he usually did. He stood up to read, and they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll he found the place where it is written:

“The spirit of the Lord is on me,
for he has anointed me
to bring the good news to the afflicted.
He has sent me to bring good news to the poor,
to proclaim liberty to captives
and to the blind new sight,
to set the down-trodden free,
to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour ...”
Then he began to speak to them, “this text is being fulfilled today even while you are listening.”

(Luke 4:16-21)

This text is being fulfilled today whenever the lame (including those crippled by fear, anxiety, or loneliness), the captives (including those held captive by obsessions and addictions), and the blind (including those who live in the dark of not being sure whether their lives are worthwhile), hear the good news of God’s love for them made present in your love for them.

God's love for the world takes the form of your love to transform it.

According to Mother Teresa, the greatest poverty and suffering isn’t not belonging; it is having no one who cares. Only love can change this. Because you are the body of Christ, it is Christ who touches other people’s lives through your compassion and forgiveness and the hope you bring them. In fact, his grace and reconciliation can only flow into your life if they flow through your life into the lives of others.

It is all God’s work. It was God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the work of handing on this reconciliation. In other words, God in Christ was reconciling the world to himself, not holding people’s faults against them, and he has entrusted to us the news that they are reconciled. So we are ambassadors for Christ; It is as though God were appealing through us, and the appeal we make in Christ’s name is: be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:18-20)

Since your very being is a gift, you are never more true to your self than when you are a gift, freely and lovingly there for others. This is the very opposite of imposing on others, possessing them, dominating or using them. It is a way of being that opens up into a “civilisation of love.” God’s love for the world takes the form of your love to transform it.

Evangelisation would not be complete if it did not take account of the unceasing interplay of the gospel and of our concrete lives, both personal and social. That is why evangelisation involves an explicit message…about the rights and duties of every human being, about family life…about life in society, about international life, peace, justice, and development… and liberation.
(Pope Paul VI, Letter on Evangelisation)

Our deeds of justice, mercy, and reconciliation become the signs, or language, that speak to people about what they were really made for, namely the fullness of love and life, truth, freedom, and peace. That fullness is not possible as long as our death is still in front of us. In the meantime, our deeds are the language that tells.

For Practice

  • Jot down some notes on any connections you see among being called, being sent, and being your true self.
  • Read Celia Lashlie’s book The Journey to Prison: Who Goes and Why, and as you read it try to identify the poor, the captives, the blind, and the downtrodden in your town or neighbourhood.

For Prayer

Lord,
Open our eyes to the needs of all;
inspire us with words and deeds
to comfort those who labor
and are burdened;
keep our service of others
faithful to the example of Christ.
Let your Church be a living witness
to truth and freedom, to justice and peace,
that all people may be lifted up
by the hope of a world made new.

From a Eucharistic Prayer of the Catholic Mass