What do you think of when you hear about someone being “on missions,” or that they are a missionary? You probably think of someone who, for God, has left their home to go to some far-away, third world country, to work among the poor and/or those who have never heard of Jesus Christ. You might think that missionaries work in Africa, South and Central America, and some countries in Asia. Some might even recognize that there are “missions” here in the United States, like in Appalachia.
It is true: Those are works of missionaries, but that is not the only way of being a missionary. In fact, all of us who are baptized are “on mission.” Each of us is called by our baptism to continue the work of Jesus, to bring the Good News of our salvation to the ends of the earth.
And Jesus sends each family into the world with a specific mission. The Christian family, as a domestic church, is entrusted with the mission “to guard, to reveal, and to communicate love” (Familiaris Consortio, #17). What makes this task unique is that the family is called to do this mission together.
To live out this mission of the family, it is necessary to attend Mass every Sunday as a family. At Mass, together the family gives thanks to God for their mission, and they pray as a family for the graces necessary to carry out their mission of love. The Holy Family of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus is a particularly good role model for fulfilling the mission of the family. Undoubtedly, as the head of the household, St. Joseph would have led the Holy Family in prayer. Both he and Mary knew the Scriptures well, and they lovingly passed that knowledge on to Jesus. Together they went to the Temple in Jerusalem to fulfill the required celebrations.
One way to be drawn more deeply in to the example of the Holy Family is by praying the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary, and October is a perfectly month to start, if you don’t do so already, a weekly family Rosary. Today (October 7) is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.
For the family to be on mission together, it does not necessarily mean that they have to commit to some extra activity. In order to fulfill its God-given “mission” the sun doesn’t have to do anything besides give light and warmth. Similarly, St. John Paul II said that the mission of the family is just to be itself. As he wrote in his encyclical, Familiaris Consortio,
… the family has the mission to become more and more what it is, that is to say, a community of life and love. … The family has the mission to guard, reveal, and communicate love, and this is a living reflection of and a real sharing in God’s love for humanity and the love of Christ the Lord for the Church His bride (#17).
Reflect on how you, as a family, live as missionary disciples. Do you allow Jesus’ Word to dwell in your family and to teach you what it means to love? What can you do to build each other up even more to live out your shared mission of love?
Copyright 2018 Fr. J.C. Garrett
About the author: Father J.C. Garrett is a priest of the Diocese of Trenton, NJ, and pastor of Resurrection Parish in Delran/Riverside, NJ. Read more of his homilies and columns at Resurrection2.org.