Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time at New Melleray
[Scripture Readings: Amos 7:12-15; Eph 1:3-14; Mk 6:7-13 ]
Today's gospel is about mission. The very first words Jesus spoke to his followers after His resurrection were “Peace. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” It is the mission of Jesus that the Father's love becomes present and perceptible in ways that make a difference in the lives of His people. In today's gospel and in the gospel of John 17 that we read at Vigils of St. Benedict, we see that this mission requires the unity of the disciples, and we see that its object is to pass on the good news of the Father's love and care for humanity.
Mission is not an optional extra added to Christian existence; mission constitutes Christian existence. It is first a personal call. God creates each person with a particular idea of how he or she fits into His plan. The person has particular gifts, life experiences, and understandings of those experiences that suit him for the mission. This is what we mean when we say that we are called by name. We are not called by category: ethnic, diagnostic, or any other. Surrendering ones natural capacities to this service of God is how we find ultimate fulfillment in this life. One's mission makes him a person. It is for this mission that one is granted holiness and that holiness is demanded of him.
To follow one's mission is to become Christ-like in some sense. Conformity to mission is the same as conformity to Christ. What affected Him must affect us. This requires the work of the Holy Spirit whose task is to “un-self” us; to guide and comfort us in the self-emptying that makes us available to the Father. This process of unselfing will cause change in what affects us and thus changes in our behavior that others will see. It will, hopefully,lead them to belief and trust in the Fathers love.
We know we are living our mission when our personal truth becomes identical with God's truth. Living this mission, then, is living in the truth. Living in the truth is humility. Thus, humility is first and foremost living the truth of our mission to spread God's love. A means to this end is to know the truth about oneself as measured against ones mission. So the apostles first preached repentance.
At the very core of mission is the task of doing not one's own will, but the will of the Sender. Thus, the goal or content of Jesus' mission is His “hour,” His passion and resurrection. This is not an extreme example of mission; this is the norm. For us to devote ourselves so entirely to mission we must have a change of heart. The Steps of Humility show us how to consent to the Spirit's “unselfing” by repenting of our varied forms of self-will and self-seeking. The object of repentance is not God, but our bad acts that have sought self to the exclusion of others. We repent before God.
Repentance begins with the experience of pain. It proceeds to the realization that we were free to do other than what we did. And it is the realization that we—not others, not society, not genetics—we were responsible for our actions. Repentance goes beyond mere regret for bad acting when we acknowledge the principle, the GOOD that we violated and decide to let that Good affect us in the future. It is then that we have a change of heart. It is then that what affected Jesus begins to affect us.
A change of heart is a change in what affects us.