Our Mission Statement at St. Patrick is that we are CHRISTIAN DISCIPLES IN MISSION and today we are being Commissioned to take our “sandals” and go out into the world and be about the mission of spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ! There is a passage from the Gospel of John 1:40-45, that gives a beautiful example of a Christian Disciple in Mission in Philip, who goes to his friend Nathanael and says to him that he has found the “one about whom Moses wrote…it’s Jesus of Nazareth.” Nathanael responds, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” And Philip’s answer is easy – all he said was, COME AND SEE.
Nathanael’s eventual encounter with Jesus began with something that any of us would find very natural, one friend seeking out another to share exciting news with them. But as we know, their innocent conversation ended up with life changing consequences. But what caught my attention was that the scripture passage very clearly says, PHILIP WENT TO LOOK FOR NATHANAEL. I took note of the phrase ‘went to look’ because that is a precise and deliberate action. It means he went in search of, he left the comfort of where he was, for a friend. As you read more of this passage, you’ll begin to see a pattern of discipleship in mission. It says, “Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of these men who heard what John (the Baptizer) said and then followed Jesus.” Andrew went to find his brother, Simon, and told him, “We have found the Messiah”…Then Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus….The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Come, follow me….Philip went to look for Nathanael and told him…” And so on…Can you see the pattern? Once they are called and have that ENCOUNTER WITH JESUS, it is like the Spirit enters them and they eagerly go out to call the next person!
Sometimes I think that I assume that God should be bringing the people who are in need of an encounter with Jesus Christ to us at the church, (we have so many wonderful ministries, why wouldn’t they just come here?!), instead of me being out in the world, out of my comfort zone, where I can share the stories of my own encounter with Jesus, with those who are in need of an encounter with Jesus themselves. Testimony is one of the most powerful evangelizers, because the Jesus we encountered is now encountering the person with whom we are sharing our story. There may be people who never wanted to have anything to do with Jesus, who will want to know Him because of their relationship with you.
And while today’s readings, first from Isaiah (I gave my back to those who beat me…) and the Gospel from Mark (take up our cross and follow [Jesus]…) lets us know that this Disciple in Mission stuff might not always be a piece of cake, (like Nathanael’s possibly negative comment to Phillip about nothing good coming out of Nazareth), just the thought of a world that truly knows and loves Jesus is definitely worth “hoofing it” for!!!
So, we are being Commissioned today to go out to wherever our sandals take us, and invite others to COME AND SEE the Jesus we know and who wants to have a relationship with each and every one of us. As it it written: How beautiful are the feet of those who bring [the] good news!!!!