Week 1: Companions in mission
It is the life and purpose of the Church to further the mission of Jesus in the world. Church means both community “inside” and journeying “outside” on mission to the local community and the world in which God has placed us. Going to church is not an end in itself, but a life-giving springboard to living as Christ in the world. We bring our life-experience and the living of our mission in the world to offer to our loving God with our community at Church. We reflect, praise and give thanks, receive the Bread of Life, in the faith and hope that we will gain the strength we need to go out again on mission into the world. Christ companions us so that we can companion each other.
Companions in Mission was a Columban programme about raising awareness in people, about the God’s work with the Columbans. It is about helping to underpin much good and committed action for the peace and justice of the Kingdom with a greater sense of the Spirituality that partners and enlivens it.
Libby Longhurst, former lay missionary (Philippines, Britain)
Reflect: A companion is someone with whom we share your bread – ‘panis’, Latin for ‘bread’, and ‘cum’, for ‘together’. In what ways can our Eucharistic communities bring life to the world?
Week 2: Mission as Pilgrimage
Pilgrimage is about journeying to a place in the hope of experiencing the sacred. To be on mission means being a pilgrim, wanting to discover and experience the sacred in the place and situation to which one is sent.
The modern pilgrimage is often a package tour with everything prearranged. But in the past pilgrims usually journeyed on foot through strange lands, continually searching for the way ahead and not knowing what lay around the next corner. During the pilgrimage there was a heightened sense of dependence on God, one’s fellow pilgrims and those one met on the way. The difficulties of the journey were seen as part of the sacrifice and purification needed before one could experience the sacred.
Faced with unprecedented challenges and uncertainties in mission today, we need to rediscover the sense of being pilgrims on the way, not journeying with the answers, but being willing to trust in God and search together for the ways God is present and active in our world.
Tom O’Reilly (Pakistan, Ireland, Britain)
Reflect: Pilgrimage is about journeying as well as the destination. How important is it that we see ourselves as pilgrims?
Week 3: Blessed peacemakers
Peace-making is a powerful witness of Christians in today’s world. Chipping away at the legitimacy and resources our society gives to the Arms Trade, for example, is vital when this death business is regarded as a necessary evil by so many people. Challenging spending on weapons of mass destruction is particularly important too as scarcer global resources are allocated to military spending, and nuclear holocaust could destroy life on our plant.
Little by little, human society has been constructing processes for negotiating peace and these should be supported. With all its faults, it is vital to support the United Nations, because it upholds the principle of multilateralism. The rules as they are currently applied there do not particularly favour the poor, but so long as there are rules, they can be debated, updated, reformed and revised; in the absence of rules there is anarchy and with anarchy it is the strong who survive.
Ellen Teague (Nigeria, Britain)
Reflect: How can we be peacemakers today?
Week 4: Missionaries as Dreamers
‘I have a dream.’ These words were echoed repeatedly in Martin Luther King’s speech in 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. It was a speech that changed the course of history. It presented a vision of a world in which people of different ethnic origin and colour could live together in mutual understanding, justice, harmony and respect.
Martin Luther King dreamed that things could be different and ultimately gave his life for the realisation of that dream. In this, he followed Jesus who had a passion for God’s dream – a world in which people can relate together in love, can live together as brothers and sisters in the one human family, the family of a loving God.
In the old Columban Mission Song, The Splendid Cause, we sang of ‘the dream the old men dreamed, the vision the young men see.’ The language of the song is exclusive and we have moved far beyond its understanding of mission. But, as missionaries, we are still called to be dreamers committed to Jesus’ vision and, like him, ready to give ourselves for the realisation of God’s dream.
Tom O’Reilly (Pakistan, Ireland, Britain)