JOURNEYING WITH YOUTH
By Fr Quyen Vu, Provincial, The Society of Jesus in Australia
On the last day of our recent retreat at Peter Canisius House in Pymble, Sydney, I shared with those in the Chapel the following ten pieces of advice to those who are sent on mission. I would like to share this with you today.
Jesus does caution his disciples when they are sent on a mission. That wisdom is encapsulated in these ten pieces of advice, handed to me a number of years ago by a very wise person.
- You don’t have to be an expert to be sent by Jesus.
Let’s start with the fact that Jesus appointed 72 “others”. The 12 apostles are not included; these are just the 72 others that Jesus sent. This should reassure us that we don’t have to be so-called “experts” to answer the call. Jesus doesn’t call the equipped, as it has been said; instead he equips the called. Jesus didn’t identify people with gifts in order to select them for missioning. He gave his followers the gifts that they would need for the mission, and then he sent them.
- Go, but don’t go alone.
Jesus sent the 72 “others” out in pairs. (This is quite challenging for us these days when we Jesuits in the Australian province are few in number!) It is ideal to go in pairs. This in turn meant that the 72 others returned with joy.
- Don’t try to do the work of Jesus – just prepare the way for him.
Jesus sends the 72 to places where he himself intends to go. They are not sent to save the world; they are just getting the world ready to be saved. This is true for us as well. We are not sent to save the world. We’re just getting the world ready for our Saviour.
- Before you go, pray. Always pray.
“The harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few,” Jesus says, “therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers.” We’re not supposed to do it all ourselves. We are supposed to pray to ask for help. We are promised that Jesus will go with us. Prayer also opens our eyes to the ways that God is already active in our life and in our world. So, before we go – before we share our faith or do anything – pray. Invite God to be a part of our mission.
- Travel light.
“Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals,” Jesus says. Instead, travel light. Why? Perhaps because being a missionary means, above all, trusting in Jesus. (I’ve learned this over the years, so I travel very light these days.)
- Stay focused on the mission.
Jesus says, “Greet no one on the road.” It seems that Jesus is telling them, and us, to stay focused on the mission to which we have been called. It is easy to get distracted from our task, to get wrapped up in all sorts of things. Stay focused on what God is doing in the world. And pay close attention to what God is calling you to do, and to be, in the world.
- Don’t worry about failing.
Jesus says that if you enter a town and they don’t welcome you, shake the dust off your feet and try somewhere else. Some people will reject you. Jesus knows that, and he is getting his disciples ready for that. Success and failure are not up to us. But being faithful is. As Saint Teresa of Calcutta often said, “God has not called us to be successful but to be faithful.”
- You don’t have to be Jesus. But when in doubt, do what Jesus did.
That’s no surprise, right? Jesus instructs his disciples to cure the sick and proclaim the Kingdom, to do what he did. That is, feed those who are hungry. Clothe those who are naked. Heal those who are sick. Comfort those who are hurting. Speak a word of hope to those who are despairing. We do what Jesus did, as best we can and as faithfully as we can.
- Go, and then return.
Go, Jesus says, but then come back. Serve in the world, and worship in the church. We go, but then we return. The 72 returned to Jesus, and so must we. We say, “We go in peace to serve the Lord,” each time after Mass.
- Finally, when something good happens, we are to rejoice not in our success, but in Jesus’ success.
Again, it is not about us. It is always about Jesus. And as Jesus said to those returning disciples, do not rejoice at your success but rejoice that your names are written in heaven. What matters is not whether you think that you were successful or not. What truly matters is that Jesus was successful, in his death and resurrection, in bringing salvation to earth and writing our names in heaven.
I would venture to add one more to the list. The above really does constitute Jesus’ advice to those being sent to share the Good News. But I would like to add one more element. Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians says: “Let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.”
Saint Ignatius, as you know, had a great vision and he went about implementing it throughout his entire life. He was inspired by Saint Dominic, who was a great preacher and used the good news to preach to people. However, this path was not for Ignatius.
Ignatius was also inspired by Saint Francis of Assisi, who lived a life of poverty and constantly served the poor. However, this was not for Ignatius either because he could not see himself being a beggar for his whole life.
Despite this, Saint Francis’ vision was a very practical one for Ignatius. He wanted to be active and contemplative at the same time. Discerning God’s will for himself and for society were at the very centre of his spiritual discernment.
It was his mission to help people gain a deeper relationship with God. He helped others understand that an exercise of spiritual conversation with our Lord leads to discerning God’s will for each person, as well as God’s love for each person.
Our Province vision is: “The spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind. To let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour”. This is our Province mission.
We were all anointed the day we took our vows and subsequently at our ordination. God’s spirit is within us! We are called to proclaim the good news. We are called to accompany those in captivity. We are called to journey with those who are blind and oppressed. Bringing the good news to others is our mission and our vocation. Our mission is a call to service.
Michael and Eka, both of you have been called to St Ignatius of Loyola Catholic College in Drury, Auckland. You’ve been called to share the characteristics of Jesuit education with the teachers, staff, students and parents in Drury. You are to embed the Ignatian ethos in the school. The Society of Jesus has chosen you specifically for this mission. We entrust you to Saint Ignatius of Loyola Catholic College in Drury.
On behalf of the Australian province, I’m missioning you today to Saint Ignatius of Loyola Catholic College, to carry out your mission with generosity, with passion, with total commitment, with hope and with love. May the spirit of Saint Ignatius be with you for the next three years, throughout the term of your mission. May you bring God’s love to those you serve. May you continue to place yourselves under the banner of the cross and may God give you the grace to fulfil your mission – something we all adhere to as companions of Jesus.