Most of you would be familiar with the TV series Mission Impossible which was later made into a movie with Tom Cruise as one of the lead characters. The show always begins with a scene in which the team leader of the Impossible Mission Force (IMF), Jim Phelps, would receive a tape describing his next mission. The tape invariably began, “Your mission, should you choose to accept it…” Their assignment was perilous in the extreme. Failure would be disastrous, both for the world and for the IMF. However, the taped voice always gave Mr. Phelps the opportunity to accept or to reject the impossible assignment – and it was always accepted, no matter how dangerous it sounded.
Many people tend to shy away from the word ‘mission’ because they have the mistaken belief that it is something exclusively reserved only for bishops, priests and religious. We can’t blame them because in the days of old, the Church did send out its missionaries to face adversities in foreign lands as they attempted to convert the pagans.
However today, in the context of our everyday life, mission does not necessarily mean preaching from the pulpit, going out to the streets to evangelise or going off to some third-world country for mission work. On the contrary, mission can take place in our everyday moments and it is possible to integrate mission into our daily lives just as Jesus did.
Jesus travelled, worked, ate, drank, and even prayed alongside and in the midst of His disciples, the outcasts of society, and those in need. Just like Jesus did, we each travel, work, eat and drink, and hopefully pray. But, what’s the difference between Jesus and us? One, we’re not God and two, Jesus integrated ministry and mission into daily life.
In essence, ‘mission’ is the grand name for Christian work. All Christian actions – large and small – that are deeds and words of love or justice or increase love and justice deserve to be called ‘missions’. When people look at our daily lives, and see things like generosity in relative poverty, joy in the midst of pain, the way we forgive and show grace—to even the hardest people in our lives, we are fulfilling our mission as followers of Jesus through our thoughts, words and deeds.
You may be surprised to call what you are doing a ‘mission’. You may see it as helping out a friend in need, counseling or lending a listening ear to someone who is depressed, supporting an initiative to protect the environment for future generations, helping an elderly neighbour with their grocery shopping etc. But these seemingly small things that we do every day really are missions. God’s work is sacred even when it seems mundane. In fact, the simplest of activities are often opportunities for mission … the questions remains however, whether we choose to accept it or not. Happy World Mission Sunday!