1 Thessalonians 1:1-5B
The Christian identity is intricately connected to the mission of the Church - the mission to which each one of us is called through Baptism. On this very special Sunday, designated as the World Day of Mission by the Pope, we are urged to reflect on our “Christian identity and our responsibility as believers in a world marked by confusion, disappointment and frustration, and torn by numerous fratricidal wars that unjustly target the innocent” (Pope Francis’ Message for World Mission Day 2017).
Identity is seen by some as a fluid concept as it can be understood differently in different contexts and cultures. However, for Catholics and all those who believe in Christ, we understand that who we are is intricately tied to the mission of the Church, that is, to bring the Gospel of Life to all; a life that “sets us free from every kind of selfishness, and is a source of creativity in love” (Ibid). Pope Francis explains that the Church’s mission “is not to spread a religious ideology, much less to propose a lofty ethical teaching”, but to bring joy, hope, love, and new life to all whom we encounter (Ibid).
So, what are we called to be and to do? Indeed, to be and to do are one and the same. Isaiah clearly and beautifully explains that God calls us into being and intimately knows us even though we do not know Him: “I call you by your name, I surname you, though you do not know me” (Is 45:4). We are God’s beloved children; each conceived in the mind of God long before our existence. Indeed, as God calls each of us into being, He invites you and me to be part of His salvific plan. St. Paul affirms that God “has chosen you, because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction” (1Thess 1:5).
“Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength”, the Psalmist proclaims. Indeed, there is only one Creator God who is rightfully all-powerful, but more importantly this God is loving, compassionate, “gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Ps 145:8). As we live to our full potentials and upholding human dignity in all we do, we give glory to our loving God. This week’s Gospel reminds us to “give to God the things that are God’s” (Mt 22:21). Whatever we do in God’s name - caring for the sick, serving the poor, journeying with the lonely, fighting for justice, or speaking for the voiceless, we are revealing God’s boundless love and mercy while living up to our best selves according to God’s perfect design.