Megan Thompson is an OSU and SPO Alumna who now serves St. Matthews in Gahanna as the parish’s Youth Minister. Megan also leads a monthly young adult worship night, Credo (find out more at http://stmatthewcredo.weebly.com/) and has a regular column in the Catholic Times called “The Great Surrender”. My mid-twenties have been marked by a particular word, a word that has been the subject of my prayer, the title of countless youth group talks, the buzzword in conversation with my like-minded friends. That word is MISSION. And I do not think that I am alone in this regard. If you listen to Catholic speakers, to messages from the Pope, and blogs regarding the faith, especially those addressed to young people, the word mission is prevalent. Do I think that this is appropriate? Yes. We are a missionary people. The Church, followers of Christ, have been a people commissioned by the Lord since the time in which he walked on the soil of this earth. But do I think we often have a misunderstanding of what this mission looks like? Yes.
If you look through my prayer journals from the past few years, most especially towards the end of college, my prayer to the Lord was consistently a begging to know my mission, my call in life. Was it to be a nun? Was it to use my degree and practice Social Work? Was it to be a speaker, traveling to minister to youth? Was my mission to serve young people, families, young adults? Though all these questions were valid and became a beautiful way for me to encounter the Lord and trust in His direction, in all my prayer and pleas, I was missing the central mission for which I was created - for which YOU were created - the central mission entrusted to each of us, the mission that Jesus wants us to focus on with all our being, the mission that leads us to our particular Vocations: the mission to LOVE.
In John 15, we hear Jesus’ goodbye speech to his apostles. It was the last time that he would speak to them before his crucifixion. And for that reason, we can know for certain that this was a message of importance, a message that the apostles would certainly remember. Jesus gives his “litany of remains”—“remain in me, as I remain in you”, “whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit”, “remain in my love”. But it is in verse 12 that he gives us our mission statement. “THIS IS MY COMMANDMENT: LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS I LOVE YOU.” This is THE commandment. This is THE mission: LOVE.
He didn’t speak to each specific apostle and say, “Peter, your mission is to be the first Pope. John, your mission is to write letters to the Christian communities.” But he gave to all the call of most importance: LOVE. Yes, eventually he led each of the apostles to specific vocations and particular calls, but first, they had to embrace the call that was most pressing: the call that would set them apart as followers of Christ. The call that was apparently most urgent.
This call to love has the power to lessen our anxiety about decisions for the future. If we know that regardless of what we do or where we are that we will consistently be used as a vessel of love, the worry about making a wrong decision is lessened. The call to love gives meaning to the mundane. When we are at work or at school or in the midst of our routine and often boring schedule, each moment is an opportunity of mission and joy because each moment is an opportunity to love better. This call is an opportunity to be like the Saints, the most heroic of lovers. This call to love frees us from a life of mediocrity and ensures us of progress because we can always advance in love.
The call of our time and of every time is to be great lovers, as we entrust our lives to Love Himself. While Jesus is calling each of us to follow certain career paths, accept certain jobs, say yes to one Vocation or the other, and evangelize to a particular group of people, at the end of the day it is our love which lasts. “If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing….So faith, hope, and love REMAIN; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:8, 13). May each of us today hear Jesus saying “it was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain” and to know that we are chosen and called to “love one another” (John 15:16-17). Jesus, we accept this mission to love. Love your world in us.
-submitted by Megan Thompson, SPO Alumna