What is the Center of OUR Mission?
Bertha M. Peralta
Bertha Peralta is a member of Defenders of The Holy Trinity. She is a young adult deeply involved in her faith, working as a youth leader in New York City. She has the admiration of all of us to be involved in this difficult ministry. Bertha’s article is addressed to the youth and young adult ministers but it pertains to all of us.
"Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men." (Mk 1:17). This is what Jesus said to the soon-to-be-disciples, and it is what He is telling us today as well. As His followers, we are called to be "fishers of men". We are called to proclaim the Gospel wherever we go, not only with our words, but also with our works. As our Pope John Paul II says "…preach the Good News effectively by being fully what you are, and by bringing that reality to all peoples" (Address to Congregation of Sisters of Notre Dame, 2004). Our life and our mission should be the portrayal of the living Gospel! But what is the driving force for our mission? What is motivating us? In my observations, these are questions youth and young adult ministers are struggling to answer.
Many people want to be fishermen, but don't know what they are fishing for, or what's worse, why they are fishing. As ministers we preach unity, but in reality we are all struggling with it (within and outside our ministries). Every ministry has its mission, and it is within that mission we must find the motivation to keep going, no matter our personal struggles. For you see, each mission needs a focus or center and that center must be the Eucharist (which means "to give thanks"), for "…there cannot be evangelization without the Eucharist… Eucharist and mission are two inseparable realities." (John Paul II, 2004).
The Eucharist is the gift that Jesus left us, it is our act of giving Him thanks for the many things that He did and continues to do for us. Sometimes we fail to see that one of the major things that the Eucharist does is to unite the hearts of the faithful and make it into one. As we together grow in love with the Eucharist, this in turn will lead us and our mission to wherever it is that HE needs us to go, and/or to whatever it is that HE needs us to do. But how do we do this? How do we make the Eucharist the center of our mission? Our Holy Father, John Paul II gives us three tips in his Address to Participants in Rome Diocesan Mission, 2004:
1) Love for the Eucharist! YES!!! We have to be in love with Him in order for us to be in love with our mission. He is there, not only on Sundays, but everyday; therefore we should make the effort to not only celebrate Him, but also adore Him, spend time with Him. We have to learn how to make Him the center of OUR life first, BEFORE we can make Him the center of OUR mission "… so that communion with Christ will help you to undertake courageous options". Think of the Saints, in particular OUR patron Saint. What made them who they are was not their courage, but their infinite love for Christ. Within that love a deep personal conversion happened, then the development of a personal relationship, and from there, the courage to stand up and defend the One that they loved, against anyone or anything!
2) Have a passion for your mission! "Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope" (1Pet. 3:15). That hope that dwells in us is Jesus! Again, it all goes back to the constant communion that you and Him have. When you are in love with somebody, everything that you do for that person is carried out with all the love that you have for that person. Our missions should be carried out in the same manner. If we truly love, and are in love with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, then our mission is not a job. Our mission is a labor of love. When we do this, others will notice, and hopefully will be inspired to either join in on our mission, or follow the mission that the Lord has for them in particular.
3) Eucharistic spirituality. The first question that I had asked myself when I read this was, "What is this?" As I pondered on John Paul II's explanation, it dawned on me! Always learn and keep on learning about the greatness of Our Lord in the Eucharist. How do we do this? Through the constant practice of our Sacraments, through constant reading and active learning, and through constant prayer. In order for Jesus to work in us, we have to open ourselves to be worked on, and we do this through the Sacraments, mainly Reconciliation/ Penance and the Eucharist. Once this work starts, an uncanny connection can be formed and next thing we know, we can't get enough of Him!
Our mission is our witnessing of the greatness of the Lord, and what better way to start than to promote a "culture of the Eucharist" during this year that John Paul II has declared as the "Year of the Eucharist". We must not be afraid to speak up and defend and promote our faith, not only with conviction but also with pride; for as John Paul II states "…whoever learns to give thanks may be a martyr like Christ crucified, but never an executioner."
We must stop this culture of death, and promote a culture of life, a life in the Eucharist (John 6:35). So what is our driving force? What is our motivation? JESUS! He is the one that not only keeps on strengthening us, but also cheering for us. And we should not think that He has abandoned us whenever we find ourselves struggling, for as Peter said: "…do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you…but rejoice…that you share in the sufferings of Christ…" (1Pet 4:12-13), because it will be in these struggles that our faith will be harnessed, just like gold is refined in fire.
If we have died with Him we shall also live with Him;
If we persevere we shall also reign with Him.
But if we deny Him He will deny us.
If we are unfaithful He remains faithful,
For He cannot deny Himself.
I love the Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who lives within me, now and forever. Amen.
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