Loving others is a spiritual force drawing us into union with God; indeed, one who does not love others ‘walks in the darkness’ (1 Jn 2:11), ‘remains in death’ (1 Jn 3:14) and ‘does not know God’ (1 Jn 4:8). Benedict XVI has said that ‘closing our eyes to our neighbour also blinds us to God’, and that love is, in the end, the only light which ‘can always illuminate a world grown dim and give us the courage needed to keep living and working’.

When we live out a spirituality of drawing nearer to others and seeking their welfare, our hearts are opened wide to the Lord’s greatest and most beautiful gifts. Whenever we in love encounter another person, we learn something new about God. Whenever our eyes are opened to acknowledge the other, we grow in the light of faith and knowledge of God. If we want to advance in the spiritual life, then, we must constantly be missionaries.

The work of evangelisation/being a missionary…

  • enriches the mind and the heart;
  • opens up spiritual horizons;
  • makes us more and more sensitive to the workings of the Holy Spirit, and
  • takes us beyond our limited spiritual constructs.

A committed missionary knows the joy of being a spring which spills over and refreshes others. Only the person who feels happiness in seeking the good of others, in desiring their happiness, can be a missionary. This openness of the heart is a source of joy, since ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive’ (Acts 20:35).

We do not live better when we flee, hide, refuse to share, stop giving and lock ourselves up in own comforts. Such a life is nothing less than slow suicide.2

My mission of being in the heart of the people is not just a part of my life or a badge I can take off; it is not an ‘extra’ or just another moment in life. Instead, it is something I cannot uproot from my being without destroying my very self. I am a mission on this earth; that is the reason why I am here in this world.

We have to regard ourselves as sealed, even branded, by this mission of bringing light, blessing, enlivening, raising up, healing and freeing.3

If we are to share our lives with others and generously give of ourselves, we also have to realise that every person is worthy of our giving. Not for their physical appearance, their abilities, their language, their way of thinking, or for any satisfaction that we might receive, but rather because they are God’s handiwork, His creation. God created that person in His image, and he or she reflects something of God’s glory.

Every human being is the object of God’s infinite tenderness, and he himself is present in their lives. Jesus offered his precious blood on the cross for that person.

Appearances notwithstanding, every person is immensely holy and deserves our love. Consequently, if I can help at least one person to have a better life, that already justifies the offering of my life.

It is a wonderful thing to be God’s faithful people.4

 

1 The following words have been abstracted from Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, the complete text of which is available at www.acnireland.org.    2 Para. 272.     3   Para. 273.    4     Para. 274.

This article can be found in Mirror 0614.