This reflection is part of the Spirituality of the Catechist Online Retreat.
We were created by God for a very specific reason; God has a unique and important job for each of us: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19–20) As Christians, we all share in this mission.
God decided long ago to bring his love into the world; this was and continues to be the mission of Christ and his Church. One of the ways God still chooses to accomplish this mission is through you and me. He loves us. He enjoys being with us. God wants to share everything with us, so he works through us to reach out to others, that they too will know his love. God’s love for us and our love for God sets our hearts on fire and gives us a great desire to tell others about him (with or without words). After all, the Truth has found us and we want to share it! This is the essence of missionary zeal.
When I think of people who embody missionary zeal, I think of great saints like St. Ignatius of Loyola or St. Teresa of Calcutta. St. Ignatius founded the Society of Jesus. He was determined to spread the love of Christ around the globe, and he succeeded. When he died, his order had grown to almost 1,000 members who proclaimed the faith around the world. Similarly, at the time of her death in 1997, the nearly 4,000 members of Mother Teresa’s order, the Missionaries of Charity, were ministering in 123 countries. Talk about missionary zeal!
However, while the examples of the Church’s great saints are truly inspiring, the majority of us are disciples whose mission fields are a lot closer to home. When I think about it, the people who have had the most profound impact on my faith have been those I have personally known. They are not famous, and they lead fairly ordinary lives. They have many joys in life and also many difficulties. Sometimes they struggle with family problems, illnesses, worries, and life’s disappointments. Yet they are filled with missionary zeal: through it all they love God and spread his love to others. They are not afraid to stand up for truth but will also be the first to teach about God’s mercy.
As catechists, most of us will fall into the latter category of ordinary missionaries. But have no doubt that our missionary zeal still burns brightly and that we are bearing good fruit. After all, true disciples and future saints are often formed from the rich soil of their hometown mission fields.
This reflection was inspired by our retreat theme this week: A Missionary Zeal. Read Joe Paprocki’s post introducing the theme and reflect with questions and spiritual exercises.