My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
How are we an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth? Are we a light to the people of God? Do we bring forth God’s light upon his earth?
By the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are called to be missionary disciples. Missionary discipleship begins with an encounter that permeates the rest of our lives. Every baptized person is called to missionary discipleship, to proclaim by word and example “that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:11). In Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis states: “Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: we no longer say that we are ‘disciples’ and ‘missionaries’, but rather that we are always ‘missionary disciples.’”
Being a missionary disciple compels us to be a voice of Jesus. After his resurrection, Jesus commissioned his disciples: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature” (Mk 16:15). In biblical terms, “to proclaim the Gospel” means “to announce the good news.”
Our times are filled with competing voices. Being attentive to voices in communion with the teachings of Jesus and the teachings of the church and to guarantee the fidelity of the church’s teachings to the words of Jesus require intelligence, reality-checking, and making appropriate distinctions relative to contexts and intentions . . . that may seem like too much to ask.
But there are many who help form our voices! Our Blessed Mother, whom we honor this month of May, shows us the voice of Jesus is not only using our lips. She spoke the word, “Yes,” but her entire living was serving God and by her service, we have come to know her Son, the bearer of our salvation history. Our religious sisters, like Sisters of Mercy Immaculata Knox and Joseph Barden, were pioneers who introduced the Catholic faith to the people of God 50 years ago and built up Catholic education throughout the Diocese of Orlando. Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary, Sister Gianna Grace, associate director of vocations, and her predecessor, Sisters of St. Joseph Sister Kathleen Power, are examples of those who help guide our young women to hear God’s voice and to yield to God.
As we celebrate Mother’s Day May 12, we remember our grandmothers, mothers, aunts, and guardians. Their pledge to help us to encounter the love of God in Christ Jesus brought us the grace of the Sacraments of Initiation that we might, too, become missionary disciples. This month, we see their voices of God’s light as our children receive the gift of the Eucharist for the first time.
The Diocesan Council of Catholic Women, who just completed its annual conference, form God’s words of love and flourish them in the ministries offered to God for the benefit of the poor and marginalized. They are a living testament of going into the whole world and proclaiming the Gospel to every creature.
Jesus asked broken people to reach others. His apostles were 12 broken men, full of empty promises and betrayals, but who, after a spiritual awakening through experiencing his crucified love, were able to bring the message to a broken world. They led from those weaknesses and called a broken people to that same conversion. A relationship of fidelity and love with Christ, as mediated by voices of holiness, justice, and non-violence within our Church, as well as beyond it, will bind our voices to the Holy Spirit’s voice.
As we come to the table of the Lord to receive the Holy Eucharist, we pray that we serve as missionary disciples and give what we have received; a voice of salvation to the ends of the earth.