Baptismal Call to Mission

Kathleen Sabol
February 29, 2012

*The content of these blogs are the personal reflections of the author and do not represent official Columban positions or statements

Kathleen Sabol

A major theme that is emphasized during the season of Lent is baptism. In Matthew’s gospel, after Jesus was baptized by John, he goes to the desert for 40 days where he fasts from food and water. After this period of fasting, Jesus begins his ministry of evangelization, healing, and mission. At the celebration of Mass on Easter Sunday, all Catholics renew our baptismal promises which reaffirm our beliefs and dedication to Catholicism.

At the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, we believe that all Catholics have a baptismal call to mission, that leads us to a spirituality of contemplation and reflection.

As a result of this baptismal call, we advocate for those who cannot be heard. We become the voice for the voiceless. Internationally, our Columban missionaries do this by witnessing the injustices of the oppressed. In the U.S., our Columban volunteers do this by serving and working toward a more honorable, peaceful, and environmentally sustainable world. And, our associates in the Washington D.C. office do this by engaging in dialogue with policy makers to create the most effective legislation to liberate those in need.

In the 1920s, Fr. Edward Galvin told the first Columban priests and sisters in China, “You are not here to convert the Chinese; you are here to make yourself available to God.” During Lent, by listening for the baptismal call to mission, we can hear how God wants us to make ourselves available to him and actively respond to his request.

There are several ways in which we can hear God’s call to mission. Some people respond to the call to mission by living the life of a missionary and serving the marginalized abroad. Others work in a supportive context, such as my work with the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach.

This Lent, Pope Benedict asks us to focus on a Bible verse from the book of Hebrews: “Let us be concerned for each other, to stir a response in love and good works” (Heb. 10:24). This verse directly relates to our baptismal call to mission, because it urges us to be attentive to the needs of those around us – from our neighbors and family members to the needy around the globe – and respond because of the love of Christ to conduct works of goodness.

After Jesus was baptized by John, he became an active preacher, healer, and miracle worker. It was the action of the baptism- being healed and reborn through it- that incited Jesus to evangelize. What kind of role has my baptism played in my life? Do I live out my baptismal call to mission?

Because I was baptized as a baby, I can’t say that it dramatically changed my way of life at that age. But, being a Catholic definitely defines me in a unique way compared to my non-Catholic friends and family. In a way, my baptism symbolized my induction into the Catholic Church and faith and became the starting line of my faith-filled journey. I don’t have a life pre-baptism to compare it to, but I can honestly say that I can’t imagine my life as a non-Catholic.


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