God needs you to make a difference: to BE a message of hope
One of the common features of young people is their desire to make a difference in the world. This is not just a youthful desire for recognition and praise, but is deeply rooted in our DNA.
Unfortunately, for some of us older people, it drives us mad when enthusiastic young people want to try this, try that, fix this, help those people over there! Too often, we grow old and grumpy or disillusioned!
But we were created by Love, to be loved, so that we can experience joy by loving others. We cannot love others unless we feel loved or lovable, and neither can we love others effectively (meaning unselfishly), unless we have a clear purpose in life.
I believe that, through our readings today, Jesus wants us to realise our purpose: someone, somewhere in the world, needs you or me to be a message of hope. Not simply to carry a message (like the water-boy in a football game), but TO BE a message of hope.
As I often remind myself, it’s good to put ourselves into the Gospel. Today we can be the Disciples going out or the people who receive them. At different times we should be both!
When the Disciples were sent out, they did two things:
1) they shared the good news about Jesus Christ and what he was doing (giving hope); and
2) using their God-given power, they helped people overcome sickness/evil (giving freedom).
It has reminded me of the power that one person can have (any one of us), when we sacrifice our time to visit others: words of encouragement rather than judgement; words of understanding about a bad habit or challenge, rather than condemnation.
In short, the Christian purpose in life is to help people see a better way of living: one that is connected to living in a healthy community where we give and receive. And out of that healthy community life, we are able to bring the power of healing to others.
At times we also need encouragement. The Mission can be disappointing when people reject us. Therefore Jesus sent the Disciples out two by two. With a companion, we can keep our focus and be accountable. We can encourage each other.
As religious life is supposed to reveal, the happiest life is one lived in community: The witness of two or more people laughing and caring for each other is more powerful than many words. This is why a respectful and happy marriage is the best teacher for our children. Education is important, but knowing how to live a happy life is what brings true success.
Some of the instructions by Jesus to his disciples caused me confusion trying to understand them. But this is what I’m hoping the Holy Spirit wants me to share:
1) Carry no purse, no haversack: trust in God to provide what we need. When we carry a lot of “stuff” we cannot concentrate on our purpose (mission), and are slowed down.
2) No sandals: I’m not sure about this one: no sandals means I will walk very little in a day! However, I believe this is about looking and dressing humbly. When we see somebody barefoot, we don’t usually feel threatened by them. So people might be more open to listening and learning. Perhaps religious these days are too affluent, and that’s why people don’t listen to us: our message and our behaviour do not always match up.
3) Salute no one on the road: this is not a question of bad manners or being rude. Saluting no one on the road means being focused on our mission: there is an urgent need in our world, today, for the message of hope and healing to be spread far and wide.
a) Too many of our youth commit suicide because they’ve lost hope/purpose in life.
b) Too many of our families are breaking apart: causing anxiety and sometimes poverty amongst our children; as well as sadness in our brothers and sisters.
Perhaps we think because we feel loved, have hope and a purpose in life that, therefore, God doesn’t need me. The mission of Jesus to his Disciples is still much needed today.
I’d like to pay particular respect and recognition to all our dedicated teachers in our communities. Many committed teachers are healing our children every day, giving them hope, a sense of belonging and sense that each of them are valuable. Thank you. We know it requires a lot of “going without” and walking “in bare feet” in order to reach many children.
Let’s not be fooled into thinking we’ll not be affected by the sadness around us. When there’s too much sadness and brokenness in our society it leads to increased violence and loss of peace for all. Even financially speaking, everyone has to pay the Government more to “keep the peace” with more Police; and increased spending on emergency services in health, housing, etc.
We either bring hope and freedom to others or we end up losing our own. May God bless our efforts this week, to be a presence of HOPE. With God’s help we shall give freedom to some.
By Gerard Conlan, OMI