Catholics do not have to be perfect to become missionary disciples. They just have to be themselves.
This is what Catholic motivational speaker David Wells told participants of the Mission Map Momentum meetings which were held in the parishes of St Francis Xavier Whangarei (August 27), Our Lady of Assumption (September 24) and St Joseph’s Takapuna (October 15) in a video message.
“There is a danger of turning Catholicism into a sort of club, if you like, what you might call cultural Catholicism, where to come inside you sort of belong provided you accept these range of activities and words that we use. That is not wrong. It is just sort of incomplete. There’s more to it than that,” he said.
Mr Wells said missionary disciples are not just people who explain what the Church is to people who are curious. He said those who explain everything about the Church are called catechists.
“A missionary disciple is one who can answer the question: what difference does it (faith) make today?” he said.
Mr Wells said there are four characteristics of a missionary disciple. The first, he said, is intimacy.
“A missionary disciple is somebody who has an experience of Jesus Christ,” he said. “Pope Francis wants to reminds us, in fact, he calls us to a personal encounter with Jesus Christ.”
Mr Wells said we have inherited prayers, some from Jesus, himself, but there is another form of prayer that is just companionship.
“Another form of prayer is just being silent in the presence of our Lord. And we need not to be afraid of that,” he said.
He said a missionary disciple is always in conversation with Christ even though that conversation may not have words.
The second characteristic of a missionary disciple is having faith in God’s power.
“It’s simply what the Church calls the theology of grace. It says stop waiting until you’re ready. The way you learn, the way you enjoy it is to have a go. Start walking, talking with Christ. He’s next to you. Number two is to stop waiting until you’re perfect. Because it turns out, you’re not. Get over it,” he said with a laugh.
He said some people wait until there is some kind of a green light that would say they are ready to go out and spread the faith because they don’t think they are perfect enough.
Mr Wells said Pope Francis reminds us in Gaudete et Exsultate, “holiness does not make you less human, since it is an encounter between your weakness and the power of God’s grace”.
“In other words, stop relying on your own… strengths. Just be you with all your weaknesses, foibles and inconsistencies. God has already got that. It turns out, he rather likes the way he’s made you,” he said.
“And here’s a real challenge, you, excuse me out there in Auckland diocese, are the answer to somebody else’s prayer. In fact, you are God’s answer to somebody else’s prayer, and you are needed. Your heart, your head, your hands, you’re needed,” he said.
Mr Wells said after prayer and relying on God’s strength, the next thing is to “go”.
“We take all that we hold dear to us, and we walk into the world. We get mud on our shoes. We get dirty hands. We smell of sheep. We go to farmyards, vineyards, we go to the workplaces and homes of ordinary people and that’s where we live our mission,” he said.
Lastly, he said, a missionary disciple has an expectant faith.
“Expect stuff to happen. There are so many people who live their lives expecting nothing to happen. I think they’re nuts. We must be open to the power of the Spirit. Things can change in the encounter between us and others,’ he said.
In Fratelli Tutti, Mr Wells explained, Pope Francis said there are two kinds of people: those who care for the hurting and those who look the other way. And this is the moment of truth: do you bend down to help or do you look the other way, he said.
“To some (being a missionary disciple) is going to be in aid of the vulnerable, in aid of the poor. Some will be daring and courageous. It is different for all of us. But it is missionary. It is exciting,” he said.