Recently I heard about a country that has a lot of shoreline; and at one point there are two lighthouses to warn the sailors of dangerous rocks. One lighthouse is called the sun and the other is called the moon. The sun lighthouse is much larger, and it contains a very bright light. The moon lighthouse is smaller and it has no light. Imagine that! A lighthouse with no light.
The moon has a mirror which reflects the light that it receives from the first lighthouse. The caretaker at the moon lighthouse has to keep the mirror polished and pointed in the right direction so that it can reflect the light to the sailors on the sea. That scenario might be a parable for our Christian life. Jesus is the bright light, and we are called to reflect his light out into the world.
The light of Christ is the spirit of love, the spirit of forgiveness and the spirit of reconciliation. To the degree that we are loving and willing to forgive, we are reflecting the light of Christ to others. That’s why Jesus calls us to forgive our neighbors before we go to the altar. That’s why Jesus calls us to remove anger from our hearts and settle our disputes in a non-adversarial manner. That’s why Jesus calls us to visit the sick and comfort the sorrowful and feed the hungry. If we do those things, we will reflect the spirit of Jesus into the world. We will be the mirrors which keep the light of Christ bouncing around the community in which we live.
Way back in the first century Jesus called twelve people to be disciples. Jesus expected them to be like mirrors…. Reflecting his values out to the world……As we heard in today’s Gospel. His values included compassion, teaching and outreach. In today’s Gospel Jesus gives them the ministry of compassion by commanding them to bring healing to the sick and the lepers. He gives them the ministry of teaching by commanding them to teach the lost sheep that the Kingdom of God is in their midst. And he gives them the ministry of outreach by commanding them to go out into the world and serve the world as missionary disciples.
Pope Francis says that they were missionary disciples because to send someone into the world means to mission someone. Having said that the Eleven at the Last Supper were missionary disciples, Pope Francis says that we should follow in their footsteps and become missionary disciples ourselves. It is not enough for us to have the status of discipleship conferred upon us at Baptism. We must also function as missionary disciples. We must find ways to reach out and share the Good News with others. And we must do so in ways that people in today’s world can receive the Gospel message.
People in today’s world place a high value on relationships. And that means that our missionary work must be relational. It is not enough to proclaim the doctrine that says that they have been saved by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. It is not enough to proclaim the doctrine the Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. In order to be missionary disciples we must build relationships with people and stay in relationship with them. People need to hear the doctrines of our faith but they also need us to stay in relationship with them. We must be the presence of Christ for them and we do so by staying close to them.
Now I would like to create a link between this topic and the topic of Father’s Day. I wish to recommend that we thank our fathers for serving us as missionary disciples. We should thank them for the spiritual and moral leadership which they have given us. Without a doubt, they have experienced resistance for serving as our leaders of faith. We should thank them for faithfully providing us with religious instruction when we were protesting and wishing we could be somewhere else. We should thank them for leading us away from movies and TV shows and websites that glorify violence. We should thank them for leading us toward forms of entertainment in which people are treated with respect. We should thank them for teaching us how to respect the coaches and referees and umpires when other adults were heaping verbal abuse upon them.
We should thank our fathers for showing us how to treat our mothers and grandmothers and all women with respect. We should thank them for enduring criticism and ridicule when they stood up for Christian values. We should thank them for showing us how to have our lives centered on Christ. We should thank them for teaching us that people are more important than things, and that parenting is more important than career building, and that compassion is not a sign of weakness, and that racism is always wrong, and that God has called us to be life-giving, not death-giving people.
We should thank them for being missionary disciples and for teaching us how to be missionary disciples. We will be facing opposition; but we will not panic. We will remember that God supports us when we face opposition and that Jesus himself prays for us and promotes our cause before the Father.
We pray that we can be mirrors for Christ, our savior, by serving as his missionary disciples in our world today.