Is This Mission?

The mission question haunts me from time to time.  Circumstances change, my response is getting sophisticated and articulate, but nevertheless, the question returns.  Isn't religious life about mission: the fascination with Jesus and his Good News of the Reign of God, the conviction that to make it a reality you need others (community) and the importance of prayer to know what that Reign of God means today?   But religious life is not an "auto-reply" to the question of mission and ministry. 

Learning about Mission and Ministry has not been easy beyond the text book definitions I learned in graduate school.  Several years ago I was looking forward to spring break with a singular craving, exhausted from working in a K-12 school doing just about everything (faculty formation, teaching catechism, after school programs – the works), when the Sister responsible for temporary professed sisters came to visit and asked me why I had not signed up to go to the "Missions" for Spring Break.  What?!  All the stuff I did was not mission – why hadn't anyone told me?!  Recently, in the middle of a legally complicated debate at a board meeting of a Health System, I murmured to the person sitting next to me, "I still do not understand why God called me to do this."

Waiting for the "right place" to do Mission is turning out to be implausible.  Gratefully, I have come to understand that it is both much more complicated (meaning mission is God's task and we just collaborate as long as we can), but it is also much more simple, more incarnational.  The most rewarding realization about ministry came to me in the simplest form.  During morning duty at school, I learned about presence, about being in the here and now, available and engaged with those around me.  With all the activity in our lives today, the "God-business" we call ministry, it might help to join the crowd around Jesus.  We might recover a sense of being present to one another that is so incarnational, so simple, so beautiful, it just might inspire others to make this world a better place!