What does it mean to be on Mission?

Bishop's Office
Jul 1, 2024

Recently, I went to celebrate Mass at the Ellsworth Correctional Facility. Many of them told me they read the Register (at least I know someone is reading the paper!). The men there are on mission. They keep bringing their brothers to Jesus. While I was there, I baptized and confirmed one man and confirmed two others. Our mission for the diocese is, “Together, let us be disciples of Jesus on mission.” Yes, all of us. Pope Francis stated in his wonderful encyclical Evangelium Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel): “In virtue of their baptism, all the members of the People of God have become missionary disciples. All the baptized, whatever their position
in the Church or their level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelization, and it would be insufficient to envisage a plan of evangelization to be carried out by professionals while the rest of the faithful would simply be passive recipients. The new evangelization calls for personal involvement on the part of each of the baptized. Every Christian is challenged, here and now, to be actively engaged in evangelization; indeed, anyone who has truly experienced God’s saving love does not need much time or lengthy training to go out and proclaim that love. 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.” If we are
not convinced, let us look at those first disciples, who, immediately after encountering the gaze of Jesus, went forth to proclaim him joyfully: “We have found the Messiah!” (Jn 1:41) The Samaritan woman became a missionary immediately after speaking with Jesus and many Samaritans come to believe in him “because of the woman’s testimony.” (Jn 4:39) So too, Saint Paul, after his encounter with Jesus Christ, “immediately proclaimed Jesus.” (Acts 9:20; cf. 22:6-21) So what are we waiting for?”

Our pope continues: “Of course, all of us are called to mature in our work as evangelizers. We want to have better training, a deepening love and a clearer witness to the Gospel. In this sense, we ought to let others be constantly evangelizing us. But this does not mean that we should postpone the evangelizing mission; rather, each of us should find ways to communicate Jesus wherever we are. All of us are called to offer others an explicit witness to the saving love of the Lord, who despite our imperfections offers us his closeness, his word and his strength, and gives meaning to our lives. In your heart you know that it is not the same to live without him; what you have come to realize, what has helped you to live and given you hope, is what you also need to communicate to others. Our falling short of perfection should be no excuse; on the contrary, mission is a constant stimulus not to remain mired in mediocrity but to continue growing. The witness of faith that each Christian is called to offer leads us to say with Saint Paul: “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” (Phil 3:12-13) I have been visiting parishes for the Sacrament of Confirmation. The students write me letters of why they want to be Confirmed. One student from St. Francis Xavier School wrote, “I chose St. Raphael because I want to be a teacher for elementary level children in a Catholic School like mine. I want to ‘cure the blind’ (like St. Raphael did, but not literally) because children might not see God and his love outside of school, so getting the opportunity to share the Good News about Jesus is the challenge I’m willing to take.” This young woman gets what it means to be on mission. So did a couple of young women from St. Elizabeth’s Parish who wrote about how “they just want to be there for people in need and those going through difficult times.”

Together, let us be disciples ofJesus on mission!

The Most Rev. Gerald L. Vincke
Bishop of Salina