James 1:19-27; Ps 15 Who shall live on your holy mountain; Mark 8:22-26
Here again are a few words from Pope Francis from his Apostolic exhortation on evangelization.
Pope Francis states that every christian should be "permanently in a state of mission. Evangelization of today's world is not about self-preservation…Our missionary style should concentrate on the essentials, that which is most beautiful and most necessary, where it is simplified while being more forceful and convincing."
Are we on a permanent state of mission? Or are we on a permanent state of self-preservation? Do we want to keep things as they are because that's the way it has always been or do we want to evangelize, adapting our presentation of the gospel so that the most essential is brought forth in a more forceful and convincing manner.
I encounter this self-preservation mindset all too often in the church, especially on the level of the parish. Pope Francis is basically saying that when we lose sight of the mission, when Jesus is no longer the focus then we ourselves become the focus and center. This is detrimental to the life of faith and the proclamation of the good news.
James is saying that as well in today's first reading.
Listen attentively to his words.
"Be doers of the word not hearers only, deluding yourselves…But the one who peers into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres, and is not a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts; such a one shall be blessed in what he does."
James goes on to say "if anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, his religion is vain. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world."
One who is "permanently on mission" is aware of what is most essential. He is a doer. He does not forget. The mission itself purifies his thoughts, his words, his actions.
Does the mission Jesus give us effect and permeate the whole aspect of our life or is it just a Sunday thing?
But before you get overwhelmed by the task remember the gospel. Jesus has to lay hands on the blind man twice before he can see clearly. Jesus is patience. He will accommodate the limitations we all bear and he will continually work with us to transform our hearts and our minds.
It is said of the blind man that "he could see everything distinctly."
There is so much hope in this passage for us all. We must continually go to Jesus and expose our limitations and allow his grace to transform us and make us whole so that like the blind man, we won't go back to the village that is we won't go back to the way things always were but we will be filled with a renewed sense of mission & purpose and then we can finally lose our self permanently for the sake of the gospel.