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What Is Our Mission?
by Dou Ting Didymus
based on Eph 1, 3-14 Mk 6, 7-13

Discipleship is the mission. We are disciples. Every one of us should be a disciple. In the reading from Mark we see Christís instructions for discipleship. We see in todayís Gospel the founding charter of the community of believers.

Christ did not bequeath to the Church a mission in the political, economic or social order. The purpose He assigns is religious. We are not a social club, we are not a political party, and we are not an environmental protection agency. The mission of the twelve apostles -- and our mission today -- consists in preaching the need for repentance, expelling demons, and healing the sick. It is an old-fashioned mission that has not changed. Christ wants us to share in His ministry of compassion and healing.

If we take Christís command to heart, we cannot maintain the status quo. We cannot just maintain the form of our religion Ö and ignore action. We must put our money where our mouth is. We cannot just go through the motions of our faith, and not move ahead to touch other lives. We must live our religion. We must make our faith a religion of action, not just a faith of personal reflection. We must be agitators for compassion and healing.

In the reading from Amos, we see two opposing concepts of religion. Amaziah, the priest in the sanctuary of Bethel (Northern Kingdom of Israel) favors a religious status quo. He doesnít want to ďrock the boat.Ē This might upset someone in the congregation. It might make people uncomfortable. Amoz, on the other hand, is the outside agitator from Judah, the Southern Kingdom. Amoz does not follow the line of smooth talkers. He blames the congregation for its social injustice. And he is expelled from the sanctuary.

Which are we? Are we Amaziah, who stands for the status quo? Do we stand for smooth talking, for telling people what they want to hear so they are not upset? Or are we Amoz? Are we straight talkers, telling the truth, pointing up social injustice even if found among the congregation? Which is the safer path? If want safety, we will follow Amaziah. The status quo is the safer path. Amaziah would have the pastors water down their homilies and sermons to avoid hurting feelings. Which path did Jesus Christ take? Jesus was not a smooth talker. Jesus Christ stood for the truth. He was the Truth. And he ruffled a few feathers along the way. And, of course, that led him to Calvary.

The mission of the twelve disciples -- and the mission of the Church, today -- consists in preaching the need for repentance. This type of preaching necessarily implies confrontation with evil. As with the twelve disciples, we share in Christís mission and share in his power. But also we share in his fate. We will bear a cross if we confront evil.

But have no fear. Christ prepares us to bear this cross. He tells how to arm our selves. To preach repentance, to expel demons, and to heal the sick Christ makes angels of men. He releases them from worldly care. He wants his true disciples to travel light. He doesnít want us burdened with material things. In our discipleship, Christ does not want us attached to comfort and luxuries. He wants us to travel light so that weíre possessed of only one care. What is that care? That care is to teach. As it says in this morningís Psalm: kindness and truth shall meet; justice and peace shall kiss. And we are to work for Christ to make that happen. We want that meeting; we want that kiss.

We are to work for justice and peace in our community. Thatís our mission. We want to see a loving embrace of justice and peace. Such an embrace occurs when two people see each other after a long time. In loving enthusiasm they hug each other with arms thrown around one another. Oh that we could see more of this type of embrace in our community. If we could, God would smile upon his disciples.

You say you canít teach? You say youíre not a good speaker. You say you donít know your Bible well enough to teach. You say you canít heal. Oh my lovely brothers and sisters, yes you can. Christ anticipated those objections. Our Lord relieves us of the worry about what we will say. He tells us: ďDonít worry about how or what you should say Ö for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that hour what you ought to say ÖĒ Brothers and sisters, we must trust in Him to make us good teachers; trust in Him to make us good healers.

We should be happy with our mission as disciples. The reading from Ephesians tells us that we should be grateful for our election as Godís adopted children. God made us to be holy. Yes, holy Ö all of us. We were made free. We were made righteous. We were made brothers with Christ. We were made to reign with Christ and are destined to be glorified with Him.

What stops us from carry out our mission? What holds us back from glory? What stops us from preaching repentance, expelling demons, and healing the sick? Are there walls between Godís truth and us? Do the walls loom up as colossal mountains? These mountains are of our own creation. What are these walls made of? The walls are really a hard heart, envy, anger, jealousy, greed, and addiction to luxury and comforts. They make look real, but these so-called mountains are more fragile than the white foam on an ocean wave.

I once saw a chicken on a blackboard. The chicken was standing on this big blackboard. And the chicken was running around-and-around inside a circle that had been drawn on the blackboard in chalk. The chicken ran to-and-fro and hesitated to jump over this chalk line. The chicken perceived the chalk line to be a living creature or a high wall.

This chalk line is like the imaginary mountains that surround our soul. Our soul thinks that itís cut off from freedom by mighty giants of anger or by frightful walls of greed. But in actual fact, between our soulís prison and her freedom there exists only an imaginary line, thinner than a hair. We make these walls ourselves. We can tear them down in a second. We can replace anger with love, hatred with compassion, envy with joy.

Our mission is to be teachers to whole world. To this purpose God would make angels of us. He would release us from our worldly cares, from our envy, our jealousy, and our hard hearts. He would make us free from gluttony and self-indulgence. As disciples he wants us possessed of only one care: to teach, to expel demons, and to heal our neighbors.

Christ did not bequeath to the Church a mission in the political, economic, or social order. Our blessed Church is not committed to any one culture, or to any political, economic, or social system. Weíre not a social club or a political action group. Our mission is religious. We preach repentance for sins, we drive out demons everywhere, and we heal our neighbors at every opportunity. The impact this Church could have on our community could be great. It will be great if we live our religion. It will be great if we reach out in faith and love and touch our neighbors. Who is our neighbor? He sits beside you. He lives beside you. He works for you or you work for him. Your neighbor is all of Godís creatures.

We are all to be disciples. This is our mission. We are Amoz; we are not Amaziah. And like strangers in a foreign land, we must press forward amid the persecutions of the world and the consolations of God. God bless you.

Amen.