World Mission Sunday

Last evening I attended the annual Franciscan Mission Service celebration/gala. It was 25 years ago that I joined FMS and headed to to Kenya. Yikes! That was brought to my attention when a pre-dinner slide showed the commissioning of overseas group #36. I was in group #7 sitting with a friend who was in group #1. There is a great energy at FMS – and all this right before World Mission Sunday.
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Mission and Belonging

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.

It is a great passage, a great image, but… I suspect when we hear that word “yoked” a particular image comes to mind. We imagine two or more beasts of burden, a huge twin harness joining them, while they pull the heavily weighted wagon, till the fields, and perform all manner of really hard work. Yet there is some comfort in the idea that the work is shared, the harness adjusted to fit, and together with a kind of family – all geared towards a common mission and purpose. Continue reading

The pep talk

jesus-and-disciplesIn today’s gospel, Jesus gives a “pep talk” to the twelve disciples he is sending out on mission. It has to be the worst pep talk ever – realistic, but grim.

16 “Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves.17 But beware of people, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues,18 and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans.19 When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say.20 For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.21 Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.22 You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved.23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to another. Amen, I say to you, you will not finish the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. (Matthew 10:16–23)

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A possible way ahead

jesus-and-disciplesIn today’s gospel,As you enter a house, wish it peace. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; if not, let your peace return to you. Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words— go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet.

Shaking off the dust from the feet is an symbol of dissociation. Nehemiah 5:13 has a similar act as does Acts 13:51 (as Paul and Barnabus shake the dust of Antioch off their feet and move on to Iconium. In all its forms, one is calling it quits and they want nothing more to do with the place (Luke 10:11 spells it out more fully). Continue reading

The Mission and Instructions

Christ-sending-His-ApostlesKnowing the Mission. I have two thoughts for you today. The first concerns “the twelve” while the second involves Jesus’ instructions: “Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town. Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” (Mt 10:5-6)

The Twelve. This is the first time in Matthew’s gospel that Jesus calls to himself a “select team” of disciples to whom he will assign a mission. Up to this point in time, the disciples were called one-by-one, witnessed Jesus’ proclamation of the Kingdom of heaven being at hand, and watched Him perform miracles. Now they are being sent out to proclaim the Kingdom. Continue reading

Mystery of human freedom

jesus-apostles-endtimesThis coming Sunday is the 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time in Year B. The gospel for the day comes from Mark 6 and narrates the beginning of mission for the disciples.

Instructions for the Mission. 10 He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there. 11 Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.” Continue reading

For the Journey

jesus-apostles-endtimesThis coming Sunday is the 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time in Year B. The gospel for the day comes from Mark 6 and narrates the beginning of mission for the disciples.

Rejected by his own family and home crowd, Jesus preaches elsewhere and sends his twelve disciples out with special instructions and powers. It is good to remember that the apostles are not sent out as a reaction to the rejection. The mission of the apostles is part of a larger plan. First, Jesus had call them personally (1:16–20). Then he selected twelve special ones to accompany him (3:13–19). The Twelve, tutored by Jesus and present with him as he healed many from sickness and evil (chapters. 3–5), are now ready to become apostles, in Greek, literally the “ones sent out.” Continue reading

Belief and Rejection

jesus-apostles-endtimesThis coming Sunday is the 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time in Year B. The gospel for the day comes from Mark 6 and narrates the beginning of mission for the disciples.

Some context for the gospel. The miracles of the preceding chapter in the Gospel according to Mark demonstrate his divine powers. Jesus overcomes the life-destroying powers of demonic possession, chronic illness, and death. The gospel two weeks prior contained the stories of Jairus/his daughter and the women with the hemorrhage. Each account tells of an imperfect faith, yet enough faith that God enters into their lives in a way that is healing and ultimately life-giving. For Jairus’ daughter, it is the restoration of life; for the woman with the hemorrhage it is being restored to the fullness of life as her illness will no longer keep her from living life to its fullness in this lifetime. The miracles, viewed together even as they as told together, are the vestige of Jesus’ fuller mission: that all might have life eternal, free from death, and have life completely. Jesus is forming new family bonds, no longer centered on blood relationships, but on faith and those willing to act on that faith. Continue reading

Into the World

Luke-upper-roomIn our gospel for Pentecost Sunday, Jesus’ first words are “Peace be with you.” His second words are “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” (John 20:21) That should give each one of us pause, for we too by virtue of our Baptism are sent into the world…just as the Father sent Jesus.

The Fourth Gospel speaks often of Jesus being sent into the world by the Father: to do his will (6:38–39; 8:29), to speak his words (3:34; 8:28; 12:49; 14:24; 17:8), to perform his works (4:34; 5:36; 9:4) and win salvation for all who believe (3:16–17).

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Musings from Away

While musing, as I am wont to do, it came to me that 25 years ago this month, I arrived in Kenya to serve as a Franciscan lay missionary. Back in those days there were no blogs to post musings. Where we lived it was a good day to have electricity and that was usually limited to the season when the rains had come and hydro power was available. When you live in the slums and it is time to ration electrical power or water, we often were the first to experience the cuts. Back in 1996 the Web was starting to gain some momentum, but it was still just a few years old.

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