Over the last few months we have had a lot of missionaries coming and going through our house here in Essendon. All this energy and movement has made me reflect on how God’s mission in our world progresses.
Queenslander, Fr Daniel Harding has come home for a visit from Chile. Melbournian, Fr Bernie Lane from Peru is in Essendon. Another Queenslander, Fr Kevin Mullins who spent many years in Mexico was also here for a visit and has now returned to the United States where he is caring for older missionaries who have worked across our Columban world. And after five years of working in Australia, Fr George Hogarty has moved back to Chile. The networks we belong to touch many thousands of people. This is a web of life that God has created. It makes me feel very blessed to be sharing in such a gift.
All of this was highlighted last week when we had a Columban lay missionary, Naanise Mo'unga from Tonga share with us something of her own missionary story. She spoke to the staff who work with us here in Essendon and it was powerful. She feels called by God to be on mission. Her stories of being with the street people in Manila would break your heart. She really is filled with the love of God for these poor people. She was with them in the ordinariness of their lives. Helping them to find something to eat, helping them to get some support to go to school. This was her mission. Her love for the children embodied the love of God for all of us.
Reflecting on these simple events in our lives here in Melbourne I recognised that God’s work in our world is not always dramatic and startling. God carries on the mission in the ordinariness of our lives also.
We can be missionary by just doing our job. We can be a missionary by living our lives as humanly as possible. I don’t have to be preaching at people. I don’t have to be giving learned talks. The mission comes from our hearts and our spirits more than from our heads.
I suppose I should not find it difficult to live with this image of a missionary because Jesus spent 30 years living an ordinary life. Everyone in the village knew him as the son of Mary and Joseph. He was learning the same trade as his father until he felt the call to move out of home and start his public life. Jesus was on mission in Nazareth. After his Baptism by John in the river Jordan his mission took on another shape. What he was doing in Nazareth was the Father’s will. What he was doing after the Baptism was also the Father’s will. To be a missionary disciple is to do the Father’s will. Our mission will be quite ordinary usually. Now and again we might be asked to do something different by our tenderly loving Father but it is in the day-to-day of our lives that we find God and follow the same path as Jesus.
The mother who says she will not hate the man who killed her children in a car accident makes headlines in the media. Why? Because she is witnessing to the best in her and calling us to live from the best in ourselves. She is a missionary. She proclaims some of the depth of goodness and love that God has given to each of us by creating us in God’s image and likeness.
By helping others to live from their own goodness and their own truth, we can all be missionaries.
Fr Trevor Trotter
Regional Director of Oceania