To be a missionary is to leave, that is, to leave from where we are to announce with our life that the practiced message of Jesus generates peace, forgiveness, unity, and brotherhood. Certain types of differences and discriminations are the result of heartbreak and nothing more. The night is beautiful even when it has no stars because it sharpens the eyes to discover a star, the star of hope. It is beautiful the night that announces the dawn of a new time. I am moved when I think and I go with my imagination to the times of Jesus, when he said: “go and preach the gospel and baptize …” (Mt 28, 19-20). This command is part of our Christian DNA. Jesus’ desire is not to increase power or wealth, but to spread his kingdom which is justice and joy.
The Church is a missionary with all her strength, but her missionary nature has three characteristics:
- The proclamation of the faith with humility and poverty: you bring nothing, “carry no purse or bag or sandals”, no money, nothing…. We do not go to conquer people and steal riches, but to promote and grow in human dignity.
- Fraternity: where Jesus comes, all the walls of difference and discrimination fall. We are all of mankind and can sit around the table of love because we are all sinners.
- Solidarity is the new name that acquires Charity because everyone puts everything in common and there is no needy among them. Where a missionary of Jesus arrives, the world changes and the idols fall by themselves. It is time to revive our faith and go out. Silence, prayer, honesty, and truth come before us, and we can sow the seed of hope in the arid land of the human heart and God, in his goodness, will make the fruitful and vital rainfall.
We are a difference that makes the difference
Jeremiah is not only the prophet who cries and complains about everything, but he is also the prophet that God raises to comfort the people, to bring the people scattered throughout the world to return to their Lord. The Book of Jeremiah should be a guide for all our missionaries to follow. They are a small group of brave men, women and young people who have the flame of divine love in their hearts and go out to proclaim. It is the small group that makes the difference in the Church. When Christians no longer perceive the desire to communicate their faith, they become like salt that does not give flavor, a light that does not illuminate and leaven that does not ferment: it can be thrown away. Our faith is not privatized and individualistic but communicative because it seeks communion. Every missionary departs crying because he breaks the bonds of friendship and love. I remember when I was 26 and left my home city. My mother, Domenica, wept as did my friends and so many other people… I cried myself, but then all the tears turned into laughter, joy, and hope. This is what Jeremiah tells us. We start in hope, we cry, but we are sure that we will never return alone, but with many brothers who have believed in our word. Meditate on this reading in a missionary way, participate and proclaim.
Being missionaries in favor of the others
The missionary, the priest and the prophet are ministries not for themselves but for others. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews presents Jesus as a missionary, a priest, not for himself but for us. Wonderful! We must enter into this vision of God to feel the exultation of our heart. Jesus is in heaven for us, intercedes for us. He, in his earthly life, was righteous, holy and wanted to take on the weight of our fragility, our sin. He, therefore, understands us and does not condemn us, but saves us with His mercy. Beautiful is the reference to Melchizedek, a priest who did not belong to the people of Israel, but who was a figure of the same priesthood of Christ Jesus. Let us approach Jesus with confidence, He is our Savior, has mercy on us and brings us into the eternal sanctuary.
The prayer of the poor, the blind and sinners
What prayers should the missionaries teach? Without a doubt, the traditional ones: Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory to the Father, Creed and so on. I love Bartimeo’s prayer very much: he is a nice blind man, kind, intelligent and brave. He was seated on the side of the road, a beggar, hungry for love who seeks the Lord but is blind. He felt Jesus as he passed and he began to cry out: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”
This is also the prayer we must always do originating from our poverty and blindness… Many may tell us to be quiet because we maybe disturb them. But let us not be silent, let us cry out even louder against everything and everyone that oppose us: “Jesus, have mercy on me.”
And Jesus, listening to our voices, will call us. How beautiful it is to be called by Jesus… Then we can jump, throw away the rags of the world and run to Him. We may be blind, but we have good legs. And we will listen to Jesus who calls us by name and tells us: “What do you want Me to do for you?” We can ask, if we are blind, to see again and listen to the Word of Jesus. The missionary is the one who teaches this prayer of Bartimaeus: a prayer of a poor, blind, beggar and sinner.
Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me! That I may receive my sight. Amen.