Our missionary identity is rooted in the missionary identity of Jesus. We are sent, as Jesus was sent. Let us look at what this means in terms of relationship to the One who sends us.

Jesus, Missionary of the Father

Through the Gospels, we understand how essential it is for Jesus to be sent by the Father.

Luke makes the ministry of Jesus in Galilee begin in the synagogue of Nazareth, with a liturgical gesture. Jesus reads an excerpt of the Prophet Isaiah: ‘‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He consecrated me by the anointing, to bring the Good News to the poor. He sent me to announce release to captives and to the blind, the return to sight, to send the oppressed free and proclaim a year of   grace from the Lord’’. Cf. Isaiah 61: 1-2.

And Jesus continues with a very short homely: ‘‘Today, this passage of Scripture is fulfilled to your ears’’. Luke 4: 21.  After the Gospel of Jesus’ childhood, Luke presents Jesus under the figure of the Father’s Envoy. It is as Envoy of the Father that Jesus begins his mission, his public ministry, in Galilee.

In Saint John’s, in the very different context of the Hour and therefore of the Passion, Jesus addresses to his Father this well-known prayer of which here are some extracts:

‘‘Father, the hour has come.

Eternal life is that they know you, you the only true God and the one you sent, Jesus Christ.

They believed you sent me.

May all be one like you, Father, as you are in me and I in you. May they be one in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

Let them become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and you have loved them as you have loved me.

Father, those recognized that you sent me.” Cf. John 17:

The beginning and end of Jesus’ public life are thus framed by this acute awareness of Jesus that he is the Father’s Envoy. His being of Envoy is so important that it is even exactly this which must be known, recognized, believed, not only of his disciples and friends, but of the world. At the peak of his life, Jesus does not present himself as a Jew of the clan of David, as a national of Nazareth, as the son of Mary and Joseph, or even as an upsetting preacher or a powerful healer. No, he presents himself to us as the Envoy of God whom he speaks of as a Father, as his Father. And now he presents his disciples to his Father, saying of them, these are those who recognized that you sent me. This is the assessment of the mission he received and for which  he reports.

The Apostles, Missionaries of Jesus

“As you sent me into the world, I also sent them into the world”. John 17:18.

While it is important for Jesus’ mission that his identity as Envoy of the Father be known, it is also important for the mission of the Apostles that their identity as envoys of Jesus be known. Here again, the success of the mission depends on it. Gamaliel, “a Pharisee and Doctor of the Law respected by all the People”, says it loud and clear. Before the Sanhedrin, who had the Apostles arrested and planned to kill them, he said, “If their words or their work come from men, it will destroy itself. But if it really comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them. Do not risk be at war with God’’. Cf. Acts 5: 34.38-39.

The Spiritan Sisters, Missionaries of the Holy Spirit

Um grupo de Irmãs Espiritanas no Cabo verde

We have heard the calls of Jesus in the Scriptures.

‘‘Go through the whole world. Proclaim the Gospel to all creature’’. Mark 16:15.

‘‘As you sent me into the world, I also, sent them into the world’’. John 17: 18.

We also heard the appeals of the Congregation when, in our formative years, we read in the Constitutions:

‘‘Christ Jesus sent his Apostles to continue his work through the power of the Holy Spirit’’. Our Spiritan Life n° 1.

‘‘Our own vocation is to be sent in Christ’s footsteps at the service of the Evangelization of the peoples whose needs are greatest and   who are most abandoned in the Church of God’’. Our Spiritan Life n° 6.

‘‘Wherever we are sent, the Evangelization is undertaken by means of various activities, some of which may vary according to times, needs places’’. Our Spiritan Life n° 13

“Christ incessantly calls those he wants to bring the Good News to the poor. Young persons, ready to answer ‘Here I am, send me’ (Isaiah 6: 8) examines themselves and seek how they can serve the Church and their distant brothers and sisters”. Our Spiritan Life n° 63.

We have heard these calls and we have answered ‘yes’, on the day of our First Profession, the day of our Final Profession. But after our generous response to accept to be a missionary, sent by God, we have to live it all our life.

For us Catholic nuns, the reference to God goes through very concrete human mediation. We express our identity as Missionaries of the Holy Spirit through our regular reference to the Word of God, to the teaching of the Church, to the Rule of Life of the Institute, to the Chapter documents, to the legitimate Superiors. Our entourage can only understand who we are if we live humbly in reference to God, the Church, the Congregation, our Superiors. And the success of God’s mission depends on this, on our living bond with the One who sends us.

Let us recognize that we find it difficult to be satisfied with one word to describe our bond with God, to express our missionary identity. We can speak of reference, obedience, submission, it varies with places and times. The important thing is that the foundation of this bond is the awareness of being the beloved daughter of the Father. How to describe the bond of Jesus-Sent of the Father? Vocabulary seems always poor, as insufficient.

In recent years, during the celebration of First Profession, in the Parish of Vaucresson, a moment eagerly awaited by the assembly is that of the sending of young Sisters by the General Superior. Through her voice, every newly professed Sister receives her obedience by hearing this Word of the Lord to Gideon, “With the strength that is in you, go!”. Cf. Judges 6: 14. The Lord thus addresses us, his Envoys, when he entrusts us with a mission every day.

‘‘With the strength that is in you, go’’!

Sister Agnès Simon-Perret