2. Followers of Jesus, the evangelizer of the poor
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.
The purpose of the Congregation of the Mission is to follow Christ, the Evangelizer of the Poor…
Vocation and mission are two interrelated ideas. “Come and follow” is complimented by “go, preach to all people”. The Congregation of the Mission centers its vocation and mission on the following of Jesus, the Evangelizer of the Poor.
1. To Follow Faithfully in the Footsteps of Jesus
The term “follow” is theological and spiritual in its nature: “to follow” is to leave everything for Jesus and his mission; to assume the life-style of Jesus. (Matthew 9:9)
The purpose of the Company is to imitate Jesus, in so far as we, poor and undeserving persons, can do. What is the meaning of this? It means that the Company conforms itself to Our Lord in its lines of action, its deeds, its works, and its purposes. How can one person represent another, if he has not the same features, mannerisms and looks? It can’t be done. Therefore, if we are resolved to make ourselves like the divine model and if we are resolved to feel in our hearts this holy desire and affection, then it becomes necessary for us to strive to conform our thoughts, our words, and our intentions to those of Jesus. He is not only the God of interior virtue, but he came to practice all the virtues; and since his actions were virtuous, we should conform ourselves to them, by striving to be men of virtue, not only with regard to our interior life, but exteriorly by acting virtuously so that what we do or do not do, what is done or not done, is done according to this principle.1
2. I Have Been Sent to Evangelize the Poor
The evangelization of the poor is the heart of Jesus’ mission. It is impossible to disassociate the announcement of the Gospel to the poor from those chosen to deliver this Good News. So, the Congregation of the Mission, its members and its structures, are not able to disassociate themselves from their purpose: following Jesus, the Evangelizer of the Poor:
In this vocation we are in close conformity with our Lord Jesus Christ, who, it would seem, made his principle concern on coming into the world, to help the poor and take care of them: ‘he sent me to evangelize the poor.’ And if the Lord were asked: why did you come on earth? He would reply: to help the poor. Anything else? No, to help the poor! Now Jesus had only poor men in his company, and was not very concerned about the cities, for he spent most of his time conversing with and instructing the people of the countryside. Are we not then most happy to belong to this Company which has for its end the very same one which induced God to become man? And if a missionary were questioned, would it not be a great honor for him to be able to say with the Lord: ‘he sent me to evangelize the poor.’2
3. Continuing the Mission of Jesus
“To follow Christ”, “to evangelize”, “the poor”, all these are ideas that give unity to the life of the Congregation of the Mission and to the spirituality of the missionaries who commit themselves to continue the mission of Jesus, the Evangelizer of the Poor:
The state of missionaries is in conformity to the evangelical maxims. It consists in leaving behind and abandoning everything, just like the apostles, in order to follow Jesus Christ and in imitation of him, to do what he wishes.3
Those who have been called to continue the mission of Christ, a mission which primarily consists in the evangelization of the poor, ought to be filled with the same spirit and follow faithfully in his footsteps.4
- Do I make it a habit to reflect on Jesus, the Evangelizer of the Poor?
- Is my activity motivated by my imitation of Jesus, the Evangelizer of the Poor?
- What are my assumptions in reference to the end of the Congregation of the Mission?
My Savior, you have waited one thousand six hundred years to raise up a Company that would expressly commit itself to the continuation of your mission—a mission given to you on earth by your Father. I had never given you thanks for this. I do it now in the name of all our missionaries, living and deceased. In your eternal plan you have destined us to this mission. Yet we have difficulty in understanding this reality. So we pray in your name, you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.5