Maryknoll Sending Ceremony
December 10, 2005
Go Out to the World
You have spent months now preparing to go out to the world – out to the world as Maryknoll missioners. You have examined your own stories, studied Maryknoll’s story and opened again our sacred story to hear its message more clearly as you move into mission – into what David Bosch calls “the movement of God’s love toward people.” (Ref: David Bosch Transforming Mission and Stan Nussbaum, A Reader’s Guide to Transforming Mission)
You have looked very carefully at the reality of the world into which you are being sent – with all its hopes and fears, joys and sorrows … hopes and fears, joys and sorrows that will soon become your own.
You have begun to see the real in that particular place toward which you are moving, and to go upstream, asking why the brokenness there is so pervasive, why the beauty is so rarely seen from here. You have readied yourselves to cross borders, to encounter new cultures, to speak new languages, to be changed, converted, to find God.
In mission, you will hear the Good News; it will make sense to you in ways you never thought possible; often you will see it lived in three dimensions and in brilliant color. You will find there gold that has already been tested in fire, found acceptable, and tested again in the furnace of humiliation (humiliation in which we too often are complicit). You will see faithfulness and courage that will take your breath away.
To mission, you also will bring the Good News. Last week in El Salvador, Jesuit theologian Jon Sobrino described his outrage at the murder of Ita, Maura, Jean and Dorothy 25 years ago. He said that these women brought love, decency, solidarity, joy and hope to El Salvador in those years – the Good News - and that when they were killed he began to realize in a new way the extent of the evil with which the people, especially the poor, in El Salvador were contending.
Gold tested in fire …
Hopefully, in mission you also will be the Good News, bringing love, decency, friendship, joy and hope to the margins of our world – accompanying and acting in solidarity with the poor, casting the new gold of your commitment with the tested metal that is theirs.
Yes, you will encounter and bring and be Good News in mission. But you will do so in an ever-new and deeply challenging global reality – a global reality you know well now, but which you will soon observe from an entirely different perspective, through an completely different lens.
The world into which you are going is rapidly integrating - the gap between those who have and those who do not is huge – and showing itself in dramatic ways – separating those who survive treatable diseases from those who do not; those who have assured access to essential medicines from those who do not; those who are always and profoundly vulnerable to natural disasters from those who have access safer space; those who work the land from those who own the land; those who wash their floors with potable water from those who know too well the terror of dry wells and soaring water prices; those who eat too much from those who never have enough.
The world into which you are going is burdened by the relentless pursuit of our security in the U.S. and by the manipulation of fear. It is a world at war, engaged in numerous violent conflicts and much of it is on the move.
In that world – this world – we human beings are just beginning to understand ourselves as part of the community of all life, and few of us a yet willing to accept the implications of that for on a daily basis.
You are going in mission to places from which this same world will look very different.
With the communities in which you live and work holding a new lens, you will read the signs of the times and discern the shape of mission with all its dimensions in a rapidly-evolving local/global context. Maryknollers around the world do that all the time. As they accompany the pain and celebrate the beauty wherever they are planted – as they nurture just relationships and live compassionate lives - they are, you will be, helping to build the beloved global community of all life.
As you do so, you will move with more and more assurance toward a different horizon… and you will inevitably “make waves” - waves that move in small circles around abused women, excluded communities, displaced families, the unemployed, the sick – waves that flow out when you embrace the earth or nurture the fragile flowers of right relationship – waves that we make together, rocking the boats of neoliberalism and racism, violence and war. You will make waves as you move back and forth across the borders that define the real. You will make waves because you will be living in the desert, at the margins of our world where gold has been, is being, tested by fire. And as you do so, the dream you have been cultivating in these weeks will come into focus, the global community will inch into being.
We are halfway through the season of Advent – the season of hope. Even in this global context we do continue to hope: hope that we can stop torture, eradicate poverty, end war – at least this war or that war – reverse climate change, eliminate weapons of mass destruction and terrorism and racism. Ours is thin hope, but it is there; it is tenacious; and it is nurtured by the experience of mission. Nurture that hope – let it be tested by fire. Your next steps are extremely important for each of you personally, for you as families and for the Maryknoll community. They are also crucial for our world. Adelante!