GOD’S MISSION From the Old Testament to the Gospel GOD’S MISSION The starting and ending point of mission and church is always God. All things are ultimately about God’s plan for us and all of Creation. God is always bigger than our image of God. The Israelites often associated Yahweh’s plan with material success and acquiring land for themselves only. Most people who followed Jesus thought that he would establish an earthly kingdom Only by reflecting on God’s revelation in the flesh and being led by God’s Spirit were Christians able to grasp more clearly the mysterious plan of God. GOD’S MISSION AND THE SPIRIT God the Father, like an overflowing and life-giving fountain of love created the world and called all humanity to share in the fullness of God’s life. God’s mission is an ebb-and-flow movement of the saving love, from God and back to God. Mission is God’s job description, capturing “both what God does and who God is”. All peoples are made in God’s image and are to reflect this self-giving love of God. God has shown this self-giving and self-revealing nature concretely in Jesus Christ and throughout history through the Spirit. The Church exists only as a result of and for the sake of God’s mission. JESUS AND THE REIGN OF GOD Jesus, as divine and human had a close relationship with God, calling God abba (daddy). Jesus knew that God’s love is inclusive of all peoples. Jesus’ central message was: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand”. Jesus preached and witnessed to an inclusive reign of God that invited all into a new relationship with God and one another. Jesus’ total commitment to God’s mission would lead to his suffering, death, and ultimately his resurrection. Paul VI’s encyclical “Evangelization in the Modern World (1975)” based the understanding of mission on Jesus Christ and the reign of God, pointing out that Jesus is the first and greatest evangelizer. Paul VI states that the purpose of the Church is to prolong and continue the mission of Jesus. The proclamation of the Kingdom or reign of God is absolute and makes everything else relative. THE MISSION OF JESUS AND TABLE FELLOWSHIP Jesus reached out to all people, even to all the excluded: sinners, lepers, prostitutes, tax collectors. Jesus spoke to the people in parables, calling his disciples to be forgiving to all. Jesus performed miracles and called his followers to be agents of healing and wholeness. Jesus cast out evil spirits and called his disciples to be absolutely opposed to evil. Jesus’ inclusive lifestyle called all to be inclusive. All are called to table fellowship JESUS CHRIST, THE SAVIOR In St. Paul’s life and preaching there is the driving conviction that through the crucified death of Jesus and in his subsequent exaltation through resurrection, all humanity was offered the possibility of moving from death to life, from sin to God. In John Paul II’s encyclical “On the Permanent Validity of the Church’s Missionary Mandate (1990)” he affirmed that Christ is the one Savior of all, the only one able to reveal God and lead to God. Furthermore he states that “the Church believes that God has established Christ as the one mediator and that she herself has been established as the universal sacrament of salvation.” QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION How does the explanation of table fellowship alter your understanding of the meaning of mission? If mission is God’s mission, how do we do mission in this context?