When I was about eight, innocent and full of confidence, I told my mother that I had a vocation to be a missionary to the poor. Wisely she told me that I was too young and that I should talk with an experienced missionary before taking any drastic steps.
Perhaps foolishly, I thought I had no time to waste so I went to the Cathedral and interrupted a priest meditating on the Stations and asked him how I could become a missionary. We talked for some time before he gently sent me away to learn as many languages as I could. Later I got the same advice from the Methodists!
Pope Francis has clearly laid down the theme for October this year. The 93rd World Mission Day is on 20th and the Holy Father’s message is entitled “Baptized and Sent!” He says “Every baptised man and woman is a mission.” It made me think first about Baptism, that first moment when God comes to us and says “I love you, child of mine”. Was the Sacrament of God’s initiative of grace the first time God called me to serve the poor? This is one of the occasions when hindsight is truly valuable.
We can look back and see that from the very beginning of our lives God has been offering us love and calling us to service. We cannot always see it at the time and we certainly do not always respond when we do realise that something is happening. He calls and waits for our response.
My former spiritual director had to get angry with me before I accepted that a) “there is no second best with God” and that means b)”there are no ‘what ifs’ or ‘if onlys’ either”. Now is the moment which God wants from me. He is not looking at the sins He has forgiven. He is building on what He has done for me and has prepared me for this moment when He gives me the task He wants done.
It is now that He is calling you and me to be His mission. He has a job that only you can do and He is now waiting for your response. Do not worry that the last time He called you were not responsive, He is calling now. It may be something that appears to be unimportant like smiling at your unhappy neighbour or it may a call to what the Church calls a vocation. “Here I am Lord, send me!”
Peter spent 15 years as a Methodist minister before European Education and Training projects in Portugal (where he converted), Hungary, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan and Moldova where he lived for six years. He was the first permanent deacon ordained in the former Soviet Union in the Diocese of Chisinau, Moldova.