Dear Sally Ann Brickner, OSF,
Fire was seen by the ancients as one of the four elements – but they were wrong. Fire is not an element – it is a process. Just like wind. Air, oxygen, is an element but wind is a process, a movement.
There is a lot of movement in our lives. Sometimes, though, we need to step back and notice how things have changed. I did that recently when I realized my old smartphone just could not handle the new apps being developed. I had to upgrade my phone.
Within 24 hours of getting a new phone, I explored its new possibilities, had a conversation on engaging young adults in mission, went to a meeting about REPAM – the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network working for the human rights of the indigenous people and the well-being of the Amazon eco-system – and joined a conference call with the Third Wave for Mission Institute.
All of that made me think about Pentecost and mission. Perhaps it is time to let the Spirit blow away – and maybe even burn away – our baggage. Pope Francis certainly stressed the changes in mission – less a place and more of a time.
Isn’t it time to let go of:
- the shame of colonization;
- our sins from the second wave and our failure to respond to the call of the Third Wave of Mission;
- and our criticism of young adults introduced to mission through short term trips?
Recently, Pope Francis called us “heroes of evangelization.” I think of Sr. Dorothy Stang, SND de N. She died advocating for the indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest and the global need for this eco-system. Today, the church in Latin American has created a network defined, not by political boundaries, but by an eco-system. The church, the missionary church, is hearing the cry of the poor – both human and environmental. In the words of John Henry Cardinal Newman, “I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work.” Now is the time to:
- build networks that link sponsored missions with short-term mission trips;
- engage young people in the social and economic development of indigenous peoples;
- and welcome the hard questions to make mission more just and more humane.
St. John tells us in today’s Gospel that God will make his “dwelling” in us. Just like the first apostles, we have been given the power and the possibility of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps it is time for us to upgrade our own sense of mission. The promise of USCMA is that we can do this together.
Together in Mission,
Dr. Donald R. McCrabb