For me, being missionary today is responding to the question: If Jesus were here now, how would He deal with this particular situation I am facing? However, this is easier said than done!
Listening to my fellow lay missionaries, and affirmed by my own faith journey, I can comfortably say that being missionary today is about relationships — with one’s self, with others and with God. The elements of being motivated by faith, crossing boundaries of culture, race, language and creed and moving out of our comfort zones in order to build relationships with people, reflect the missionary life attributes of presence, witness and service.
The life of active presence among the people calls for an openness to journey with them in their joy as well as their pain and take initiatives in responding to the needs of the most vulnerable in society. “I came that you may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10). The life of witness calls missionaries to be true to the Gospel; to take on the attitude of Christ in our daily encounters with others bringing them God’s love, offering them a life of hope often in the face of hopelessness. And the life of service calls us to offer our services to the local Church and make it more missionary, promoting missionary vocations, reaching out in our communities and networking with others in the effort to build the Kingdom together.
The missionary of today is invited to be open to the challenges while trusting in the Spirit. We work with the people to promote and build a more just society which values human dignity and all forms of creation and life. “All things were made through Him and without Him nothing came to be” (John 1: 3). The modern missionary is engaging people of other cultures and faiths in multi-ethnic and multi-faith communities to dialogue in order to reconcile differences and build life-giving relationships. Mission is the accompanying and advocating for migrants who are often ignored, unseen and unheard, as they struggle to provide for themselves and their families.
Mission and missionaries are present in the realities of environmental, social, economic and political crises. There we are committed to collaborating and working as partners with our fellow lay missionaries, the ordained, parishioners and other groups inside and outside Church structures who share a common vision of building a more just and humane society, announcing the Good News and denouncing acts of injustice.
Finally, being missionary means moving where the Spirit blows and discovering each time the newness and life of the mysterious presence of God in the people we minister among, in the diverse situations of their lives and in their joys, needs and struggles in which we share.
Columban lay missionary Serafina Vuda passed away unexpectedly in May 2014.