Words from the Holy Father for us today:
The Church, in other words, must constantly rededicate herself to her mission. The three Synoptic Gospels highlight various aspects of the missionary task. The mission is built upon personal experience: “You are witnesses” (Lk 24:48); it finds expression in relationships: “Make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19); and it spreads a universal message: “Preach the Gospel to the whole creation” (Mk 16:15). Through the demands and constraints of the world, however, the witness is constantly obscured, the relationships are alienated and the message is relativized. If the Church, in Pope Paul VI’s words, is now struggling “to model itself on Christ’s ideal”, this “can only result in its acting and thinking quite differently from the world around it, which it is nevertheless striving to influence” (Ecclesiam Suam, 58). In order to accomplish her mission, she will constantly set herself apart from her surroundings, she needs in a certain sense to become unworldly or “desecularized”.
I think this applies especially well to us mothers: Our three-pronged mission is so clear:
“You are witnesses” (Lk 24:48)
Every time we walk down the street and hear someone say to us: “I don’t know how you do it. I couldn’t.” or “Wow, you have your hands full!” We are witnesses. Large families are witnesses of faith. Well-behaved, orderly, peaceful, joyful families are witnesses. Every time we decline a coffee date or a day at the pre-school or daycare for our children. We are witnesses. Every time we refuse to badmouth our husbands, every time we smile when we should scream….. we are witnesses.
“Make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19)
We are in the business of disciple-making. We have no greater disciples than those who come under our spiritual, material, and physical care at infancy. We have their full attention.
“Preach the Gospel to the whole creation” (Mk 16:15)
First, we are doing this by responding faithfully to our vocations. But more importantly, it is ONLY by responding faithfully to our particular calling, our particular “post” that we can preach to all creation. We are but one person– but if each person did exactly what their job was, we would cover the whole planet. Assume command of your post. As a good soldier of Christ Jesus, defend your area, so your sisters and brothers can do their job.
The word “preach” has a particularly vocal aspect. We are called to SPEAK the Gospel– to speak words of life. If only we understood, especially as mothers, the Kingdom-building power of the tongue.
The Holy Father says that it is only by rejecting the world’s values and ideas that we can accomplish our mission effectively. What are two basic ways we can check if we are doing that?
1. Cast down your idols. What are they? Things which receive worship from you that is due God alone.
2. Look for the fruit of a life lived in the Spirit. Do you have it? (Hint Galatians 5:22-23)
The Holy Father said:
One could almost say that history comes to the aid of the Church here through the various periods of secularization, which have contributed significantly to her purification and inner reform.
Secularizing trends – whether by expropriation of Church goods, or elimination of privileges or the like – have always meant a profound liberation of the Church from forms of worldliness, for in the process she has set aside her worldly wealth and has once again completely embraced her worldly poverty.
In this the Church has shared the destiny of the tribe of Levi, which according to the Old Testament account was the only tribe in Israel with no ancestral land of its own, taking as its portion only God himself, his word and his signs. At those moments in history, the Church shared with that tribe the demands of a poverty that was open to the world, in order to be released from her material ties: and in this way her missionary activity regained credibility.
History has shown that, when the Church becomes less worldly, her missionary witness shines more brightly. Once liberated from her material and political burdens, the Church can reach out more effectively and in a truly Christian way to the whole world, she can be truly open to the world. She can live more freely her vocation to the ministry of divine worship and service of neighbour.
In other words, it is when it is most difficult to live in a manner that is “set-apart”– when we feel most “different” and “alone” that we can make the largest impact and have the greatest effect. Remember that the path to glory comes necessarily through the path to the Cross.
Mothers, it is almost— ALMOST — impossible to be a Christian mother today. We are hemmed in on all sides, surrounded. Rejoice! It is a period of great grace and great growth in the body of Christ. Pray for each other. He is with us.