Developing a missionary mindset
The theme for this 50th anniversary of the Diocese of Fort Worth is: The Eucharist Makes Us the Church. While reflecting on this, I remembered a homily I heard years ago where the congregation was exhorted to take what we receive at Mass, namely Jesus, out into the world.
We were asked to “be what we receive.” I remember thinking: “How can I be Jesus when it feels like I can barely be me day to day?”
The answer might be caught up in the core of our understanding of the world and our place in it. Put another way, our mindset sets the course for our daily living.
This time of year is full of so many things. We have parties to attend and presents to wrap, new years to ring in, houses to clean, decorations to put up and then take down, Holy Day Masses to attend, and all of this while juggling the normal day-to-day things like work, chores, errands, and obligations with family and friends.
In my experience, our mindset really sets the tone for our holiday celebrations as well as daily living. Are we celebrating the modern culture or the eternal God? Are we all about completing tasks or being in the moment? Are we most concerned with the bottom line in our bank account or the meaning behind our giving? Do we make decisions based on fear and avoiding conflict or based on love and forgiveness? Any number of mindsets can rule the way we approach our day.
We get our cue from God the Father whose love for us is revealed through His missionary mindset. God’s mission and mindset is all about love and mercy, and we encounter this in the person of Jesus.
If we are going to be in the world what we receive at Mass, we might want to adopt this same missionary mindset. What I mean by this is that we have two responsibilities as Catholics: To grow in our faith and to show our faith. Put another way — we need to have an interior life of faith and an exterior mission for the Kingdom.
We see this clearly in the Bible. The disciples spent three years with Jesus getting to know Him deeply before Jesus sent them into the world to spread the Good News. Jesus started the mission and then purposefully and powerfully passed it on to the Church to continue it.
Step one is our interior life. We cannot give what we do not have. Thus, to form a missionary mindset, we start by developing our relationship with Jesus. Think daily prayer, Mass more than once a week, praying with and studying the Scriptures, taking time for Adoration, and a good dose of silent prayer. In the silence, Jesus will speak to the deepest parts of our lives.
If these are new ideas to you, or if you tried these things in the past and it did not go well, let me suggest: Don’t focus on the times you failed, focus on the times you actually did pray or make it to Mass. God is only focused on your effort, not your perfection. God loves you and wants to be with you — period.
Fueled by our times of prayer, we can now more effectively live our faith. There is no compartmentalization in Catholicism. We must grow and show our faith. Yes, we have different spheres of life: family, work, church. But only one guiding force, Jesus.
Our exterior mission can take many forms, but it overflows from what is inside us. Our values, beliefs, and convictions come from within and manifest in our thoughts, words, and actions.
The missionary mindset of sending an infant into the world as a savior lets us know we do not have to start big. We can take baby steps in our interior life and in our missionary efforts. Just like the three kings, we bring our gifts to Jesus, adore Him, and are sent on mission with a different mindset. With this missionary mindset we can be the Church the Eucharist makes us.