THE MISSIONARY CHOICES OF JESUS
A column that presents Jesus and his missionary style. Opportunities to reflect on our discipleship, our faith and the missionary charism.
The Tireless going beyond
In the disciples’ missionary formation, Jesus abandons the static paradigm of rabbinical schools of that time that were characterized by a pre-established concept to be transmitted, and proposes, from the very first meeting, a displacement of the person: “Come and follow me”. His school in fact takes place on the road, characterized by meetings and in different situations to get involved; his lessons where you learn to face the pressing pressure of the crowd to face the enigmatic questions of the scribes and doctors of the law, you come to terms with the unexpected and the change of plans. In this “pilgrim hermeneutics” of the continuous “going across to the other shore”, geographical, existential and of faith, the disciples gradually change, grow, they enter in to a new logic, they discover themselves and the identity of their Master.
Since Jesus’ Messianic day, as described in the Gospel of Mark (Mk 1,21-32), the disciples face a Rabbi that deeply surprises them with his unpopular choices. After having healed many, having performed exorcisms, the next day, when it was still dark, Jesus chose to retire to a deserted place to pray. The appeal of Simon and others resounds logical, humanly obvious, after having found him: “Everyone is looking for you!”. But Jesus’ gaze is already oriented elsewhere, guided by urgency and an intrinsic need of his being to go elsewhere, to the nearby villages, to preach the proximity of the Kingdom of God. An unsettling direction outside any convenient criterion, which pushes the disciples to continually leave behind certainties, positions achieved, the already known, to enter a dynamism that both deprives and enriches at the same time.
Jesus too lived the logic of ‘always elsewhere’, moving to the other side of the wider horizon of salvation than what his Jewish conviction outlined. The encounter with the Syro-Phoenician woman (Mk 7,24-30), in pagan territory, causes the Master to cross the borders of his apostolic project: “I have come only for the sheep of Israel”, to immerse oneself in the universality of salvation which overflows from the heart of the Father. The insistent plea of this woman, humble an bold at the same time it leads the faith of Jesus to an unthinkable dimension and inconceivably beyond for a Jew.
These two evangelical episodes place us on a journey of missionary choices that are neither taken for granted nor foreseeable, they lead us on an itinerary that shakes our narrow- mindedness of judgement, they uproot us from a comfortable discipleship attached to certainties, to let us be dragged, attracted by the gaze of love of Jesus, where God’s saving will calls us.
Sr. Silvia Serra, General Direction
Sr. Silvia Serra, Missionary Sister of the Immaculate, a Missionary in South Brazile for 17 years, has done her Biblical studies in CEBI (Centro Ecumenico di Studi Biblici ) in Sao Paolo, and obtained a specialization in Biblical counseling at the EST University of San Leopoldo, Rio Grande Do Sul. She is currently at the service of the historical office of the Congregation.