On Mission and Crossing Over Boundaries

saint-francis-of-assisi-cimabueAmong founders of religious orders, Francis of Assisi is the first who consciously included mission ad gentes (to the people of the world) as part of the order’s Rule of Life. Francis was clear about the ad gentes nature of mission in the Franciscan tradition: “But I tell you in truth that the Lord chose and sent the brothers for the benefit and salvation of the souls of all people in the whole world and they should be received not only in the land of the believers, but also in that of non-believers.” (Assisi Compilation, 108)

Clearly Francis held to the idea of the universality of mission, yet some people might find Francis’ distinction of the world as the twined categories of believer and non-believer to be somehow less than welcoming or out of sorts with our sensibility of what it means to be Franciscan. Yet note how Chapter 16 of the “Early Rule” (1221 CE) is named by Francis: “Chapter XVI: Those going among the Saracens and other Nonbelievers.” I mention this as a way of pointing you back to the first reflection where it was noted that the way you think about Jesus, church, when and how God’s reign is fully inaugurated, the nature of salvation, how the Church values human beings, and the role and value of culture – all these things affect the way in which one understands and carries out mission. As questions, these six topics remain present, even urgent, in every age because how they are answered is how Christianity finds its concrete identity as it constitutes itself in fidelity to Jesus’ mission. Continue reading

Boundaries, Faith, and Gratitude – Context

Luke 17:11-19

11  As he continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was entering a village, ten lepers met (him). They stood at a distance from him 13 and raised their voice, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” 14 And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” As they were going they were cleansed. 15 And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; 16 and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? 18 Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” 19 Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.” Continue reading