Are You on a Mission From God?
Associate Vocation Director
In the movie The Blues Brothers, Jake and Elwood claim that "we're on a mission from God."
For some people, the mission is to accumulate wealth, possessions, fame, and similar rewards. For others, the mission is to find the key that unlocks the gates to something that transcends earthly goods. Many people in this second group come to realize that the way to find the key to heaven involves helping others find that same key.
Father William Howard Bishop is one of these visionary men who discovered that it wasn't enough for him to be just a good person, or even to be just a good priest. He realized that his own salvation was tied to that of his fellow human beings. He saw a great deal of human need, both spiritual and material, that was not being addressed. The surprise for Father Bishop was that he saw this need not in some faraway land but right here in the United States.
Mission Sunday is celebrated on Oct. 23. Maybe that would be a good time to think about accepting the mission from God to which we are all called. And when you do, think hard and pray harder about what it truly is. If the call that you feel begins and ends with you, check its authenticity. If it doesn't go beyond you, are you merely being selfish? Does what you do to bring yourself closer to God also help bring others closer to God?
I have been a leader on dozens of mission trip experiences and well over 100 high school retreats. The constant theme that has come out of nearly every one of these experiences is this: "I got so much more out of this than I gave." This is God's work in progress. Serving God and accepting God's mission for you is a sacrifice, no doubt. However, this sacrifice always returns the sweet fruit of joy.
This is why you often hear high school volunteers express such joy after spending an exhausting week at Glenmary Farm, for example. They make a weeklong sacrifice to serve in rural Kentucky. They sacrifice many comforts to which they're accustomed. They make these sacrifices in order to explore God's mission for them. The reward is meeting and helping other people who have needs that are different from their own.
After this type of experience, people often feel as if they have received more than the people they came to serve, because they are both coming closer to God—and the joy from that experience is even greater than the effort they made. Glenmary priests and brothers find this same joy in the mission areas where they serve.
So, as you celebrate Mission Sunday on Oct. 23, take some time to reflect seriously on what and where God's mission is for you. Maybe you can take a small step like going on a retreat or mission trip.
Glenmary's Vocation Office can help you arrange a visit to one of our current missions. A mission trip is the best way to explore the possibility that God's plan for you may be serving in the home missions. And once in the missions, you may find that helping others may be the key to heaven and to finding joy on earth. With that discovery, you can truly say, "I'm on a mission from God."