Vocations View: Making Present the Love of God

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by Jeb Key, Diocese of Shreveport Seminarian

In the Gospels, we hear several times a command from Jesus to, “Go out and make disciples of all nations… teaching them to observe all that I have taught you.” (Matthew 28:20) In fact Jesus tells us “Even as the Father has sent me, so I also send you [to all peoples].” (John 20:21) But how are we to answer this call? The Church tells us that in this call, all the baptized are to announce, bear witness, make present and spread the love of God. Different religions and different people have varied ideas of how we ought to fulfill this mission; but in my life, I have seen that often spreading the love of God requires very little talking.

Over the past three years as a seminarian, I have had several amazing opportunities to serve the people of God, not only in our own diocese, but in cultures around the world. Most recently, I answered the Church’s call to mission in Granada, Nicaragua with the Theology 1 class of Notre Dame Seminary. The people of Granada are typically very poor and own very little. It was incredibly rare during this trip to find someone who knew more than a couple words of English. With my Spanish being similarly limited, I was very worried about how I could possibly share my love of God and the Church with these people. However, communicating God’s love comes through actions, just as it does through words.

In the eight days I was among the people of Granada, I had the opportunity to meet with the homeless, the elderly, the orphaned and even many of the clergy in the area. Meeting these people who are all part of the Universal Church of Jesus Christ was an incredible experience. Several times in life, there have been experiences which broadened my understanding of this world, and this was one of these experiences for me. Many of these people were suffering from hunger and going without, but more than that, they suffer from a feeling that they are unwanted or unimportant. To these people, words were completely unnecessary in showing the love of Christ. A smile, a hug, or just simply trying to communicate as best as I could, spoke to them “I know you. I see Christ in you.”

How can we best answer this call in our diocese however? First, we cannot give what we do not have! St. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians, “It is the love of Christ which urges us onward,” (2 Cor 5:14) and it is that same love which is the source of missionary activity to all people. In order to share this love with all people, we must deepen our relationship with our Savior, and this of course comes from a greater participation in the Sacraments as well as becoming more intentional about our own personal prayer lives.

Secondly, everyone thinks that missionary work is all about going to another country far away and building a house or cooking food, but this is not true. While these are parts of the mission of the Church, this line of thinking leads us to forget about all of the people who need to find the love of God back in our own communities.

Not everyone is able to make a world-wide trip for Jesus, and that is OK! If we were all more aware of the needy in our own communities, how different would this diocese be? What kind of changes could we make to our lives in order to show forth our faith like a light for all to see? What changes would happen to our communities from one person simply trying to answer the call of Jesus to, “Go out to all nations and share with all what I have given to you.” •

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