The word ‘mission’ is a loaded term for it carries many connotations with it. In military contexts, mission refers to the completion of a set of specific objectives. For organizations and corporations, the “mission” refers to the founding purpose that is meant to guide future activities. The religious understanding of the word includes aspects of these glosses on the term, but includes a relational component. To be on mission means to be sent by someone for some purpose into the world. The relational context of mission is the religious dimension of mission.
For Jesus, he saw all of his activities contributing to his mission that he received from the Father, a mission to reveal the Father’s love and mercy. Paul states his mission as “to bear witness to the Gospel of God’s grace.” Each remembers that God has sent them to be a representative, and it’s ultimately God’s glory, and not their own, which is the goal. When we refer to mission without relationship, following and executing a mission becomes more about our private success than the building up of another. The Second Vatican Council stated well the Church’s different conception of mission: “The church is not motivated by earthly ambition but is interested in one thing only—to carry on the work of Christ under the guidance of the holy Spirit, who came into the world to bear witness to the truth, to save and not to judge, to serve and not to be served” (Gaudium et Spes, no. 4).
Pope Francis has challenged Catholics and Christians everywhere to remember we represent a merciful God in the world. We are meant to show God’s greater glory in how we forgive one another, and ourselves at times. It is not a testament to our ability to forgive, but a revelation about God who sends us in the world to forgive. At all times, and especially during the Year of Mercy, the Church is on mission to reveal God to the world.
What does it mean for me to be sent by God in my daily life? What is my personal mission as a disciple of Jesus Christ?