What is a Missionary Disciple?
BY DR. JEFF ANDRINI, OFFICE OF EVANGELIZATION AND DISCIPLESHIP
What word or phrase comes to mind when you think of a missionary? Perhaps, like me, you remember someone who visited your parish to share about their life as a missionary overseas or you’ve read about people who have given up their livelihood in the U.S. to serve those in need around the world. These are good examples of what a missionary can be, but Pope Francis has a more global definition when is says, “Every Christian is called to be a missionary, sharing the good news of salvation in Christ and making disciples for him.”
We are each baptized into the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and sent on mission! This mission is renewed at every Mass as we celebrate and receive the Eucharist and are literally, “sent forth” to share the love of God with a hurting world. When you and I are authentically touched by God’s love, we are compelled to share this love with the world. It is not something we can keep to ourselves.
Missionary has many varied connotations, so let’s consider another word that might help us understand our role as Missionary Disciples – and that word is “ambassador.” You and I are ambassadors for God’s Kingdom. Jesus initiated the reign or kingdom of God and left us the mission of making present his kingdom in and through our relationship with him. So, Ambassador (fill in your name), how well does your life show others that you are on Jesus’s mission in the world to make present God’s kingdom, by closely following Jesus in your daily life?
The word disciple comes from the Greek word “mathetes” which means “to be a learner, student or apprentice of the master.” So we do what Jesus did. He spent time each day in union with his Father in prayer. He welcomed, loved and cared for those in need and he tried to show the essentials of making present God’s kingdom by loving God first and your neighbor as yourself.
A disciple of Christ is a committed follower of the Person, Teaching, Values, and Lifestyle of Jesus. As Catholics, we have done a good job of learning our prayers, learning about God and our faith, and to a large extent, caring for the poor in our communities and around the world. However, have you and I been authentically touched by God’s love?
In the Book of Revelation, Jesus states, “I stand at the door and knock.” Jesus waits for us each day to open the door of our heart and lives to him. We need to respond to his invitation of love and receive him, so we can in turn embody and reflect his love to the world. This is what it means to be a missionary disciple and a Catholic. Let’s find new and old ways to live this core mission of our Church together!
Peace in Christ,
Dr. Jeff Andrini is the director of the Office of Evangelization and Discipleship. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally printed in the October 2021 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.