The Joy of Being a Missioner
What a thrill it was to watch and listen to Pope Francis when he came to the United States recently! Did you observe his facial expressions? My immediate response was that this is a man of faith, and that the peace and joy of Jesus Christ seem to permeate his very being!
Pope Francis is a missionary, and there is no mistaking his "joy in being a missioner."
As I reflect on my life as a Glenmary missioner, I can see that very same joy. What a blessing with which God has graced me in my vocation.
You might ask yourself, in a world dominated and permeated by violence, hatred and narcissism: What does this JOY look like? Feel like? If you were an artist and were commissioned to create a painting of joy, what colors, textures or images would you use?
I believe Pope Francis can assist us as we begin to paint an image of joy. In November 2013, he published an exhortation entitled The Joy of the Gospel. The following are key excerpts from that document:
• On joy and evangelization—"Proclaiming Christ means showing that to believe in and to follow him is not only something right and true, but also something beautiful, capable of filling life with new splendor and profound joy, even in the midst of difficulties." (Joy of the Gospel, #129)
Pope Francis reminds us that every life has challenges, difficulties and sorrow. The joy found in relationship with Jesus does not remove these, but fills our life with true, lasting joy—not the transitory joy with which our culture seduces us.
Recall the words of Jesus: "If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you." (Jn 15:10-12)
• On joy and service to others—"To be evangelizers of souls, we need to develop a spiritual taste for being close to people's lives and to discover that this is itself a source of greater joy. To be Mission is at once a passion for Jesus and a passion for his people." (Joy of the Gospel, #268)
One of the greatest joys God gives us as missioners is the relationship we have with the people we serve. It is a unique and special relationship, akin to the biblical image of a shepherd with his sheep. What a privilege it is to serve the people of our missions and to share God's love with those we serve.
So what would your painting of joy look like? If you are discerning a call to be a Glenmary missioner, I invite you to come and experience the joy of being a missioner!