Showing posts from November, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving. Being grateful for the gift of faith in God's love.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving, our hearts swell with gratitude for all the gifts in our lives.  Among those gifts  is the gift of faith.  Last Sunday, in the Catholic Church, we concluded our Year of Faith.  Of course, faith is not something you can neatly pack into a year’s reflection or celebration.  It is a gift that permeates our entire life’s journey.   Thanksgiving give us another opportunity to reflect on the gift of faith, and in particular to give thanks for all the people in our lives who have given us the gift of faith through their love. What is faith anyway?   It’s tough to neatly define.  Actually, St. Thomas Aquinas said, “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible."    As a Christian community we share faith and I think it’s important for us to celebrate and give thanks for that gift; and to reflect upon what this gift means to us.  And to those who don’t share our faith, while it may be impossible for us to “e…

Do We HAVE to Use the Word 'Mission'?

A lot of Catholics have trouble with the word "mission." When they hear of a "missionary Church," they think of colonialism, oppression, forced conversion, cultural degradation, and a host of other negative perceptions arising out of past (and sometimes present) injustices committed supposedly in the name of God. Given this cultural understanding, it is not surprising that in our ministry in mission education we often receive some version of the following feedback: "This all sounds great...but do we HAVE to use the word 'mission'?"

At a recent talk by a Maryknoll priest, this struggle was brought up in a way that I had not considered before. He used a PowerPoint presentation to show images that he found when he searched the Internet for the word, "Jihad." As you might expect, he found pictures closely associated with war and terrorism. But then, he gave us the following definition of jihad: "To abandon ego in order to submit t…

The future of mission: One degree of separation among varied missionaries.

Both within Maryknoll and “in the field” I often hear the question about what is the future of mission. This question sometimes comes up in response to the aging of our Maryknoll fathers and brothers and fewer numbers of new vocations and the phenomenon of people more interested in twinning, immersion and short term mission opportunities.   Since the mission belongs to God, I guess it would be presumptuous of us to definitively answer that question.  However, I think God gives us some glimpses.  I like the image of mission being a treasure hunt, an adventure to discover where God’s love is breaking in and then seize upon the opportunity it presents to join in the mission.

Last week at our Regional Mission House in San Lorenzo, I think we had a glimpse into what mission looks like today and a pointer to where it may be going.   We gathered for one of our periodic mission presentations.   There was nothing unusual about that.   However, what fascinated me was our beginning round of intro…

Where Total Engagement Meets Radical Humility

When I first joined Maryknoll as a mission promoter, I saw my role as inspiring others to know and care more about the world, particularly the poor and marginalized, and to convince them to respond in a Christian ways. Ironically, the "Christian way" revolves around relationship, dialogue, and listening. Yet there I was, standing at the front of the room telling people that mission is not about telling people what to think, but sharing your life in a way that affirms God's love for both them and you.
Evangelization as mere "telling," of course, supposes both that I have it all figured out, and that you have none of it figured out - that I am engaged in something greater than myself, and that you merely ought to be. But, as often is the case, the life of Jesus it challenges our notion of how we participate in the world. Jesus, of course, lived a life of total engagement with others, but one also of radical humility (it was noted to me recently that he spent 90% …