Holiness is Necessary for Missionaries

It is great when we see the Church grows in number and geography. This achievement is the result of untiredly working in her mission. However, “[mission of the Church does not primarily focus] on institutional development, expansion, or numerical increase. Its focus is fundamentally theological, namely the realization of the fullness of the knowledge and love of God which is boundless and all embracing”[1] Aware of the primary focus of mission, we will realize the necessity of holiness.

Holiness is a universal call to all people. It is the call to be in union with the Holy Trinity. In her mission, the Church is sent to the people of the world to gather them to God. When we perceive holiness as union with God, mission of the Church is simply understood as making people holy. If anyone wants to be in union with the Holy Trinity, first and foremost, he or she must have knowledge of God. Subsequently, the knowledge of God strengthens the union with Him. The more we know God, the more we love Him. Furthermore, if the Church wants to draw people to the union with God, she must be first in union with Him. She must be the model of that union. In other words, she must be holy herself so that she can make others holy. The importance of holiness is mentioned in Vatican II, “[missionary activity] bears witness to her sanctity while spreading and promoting it” (Ad Gentes 6).

The Church’s mission is mission of all members. The term “missioner” refers to those devoting their lives for missionary with their charism. Nevertheless, sharing the prophetic office with Christ in baptism, everyone is called be a missioner in their lives. The ordinary living of Christian life is an essential place for the Church’s mission. There, Christians can make God known to others by expressing what they believe, how they celebrate their faith, how they live their faith, and how they communicate to God. In their lives of holiness, the holiness of God is introduced, and the Gospel is proclaimed effectively. In this manner, the mission of the Church is accomplished without requiring professional activities since holiness is the only thing that Christians need to focus.

Lastly, to demonstrate a life of holiness concretely, I would like to indicate that in Christianity, holiness is equivalent to love. Thus, showing our holiness means showing our love to God and to neighbors. In Christian life, showing our love toward God is not enough, but our love become meaningful only if we include our neighbors in our love toward God. Love is manifest in our giving to others. Jesus is the greatest example of love because he totally gives himself for us. When we continue Jesus’s mission, we necessarily imitate his example of love. There are various ways to express our love in Christian life, such as kindness, hospitality, generosity, or works of charity. Although those works seem normal in human life, they indeed contribute to the Church’s mission. We truly witness God’s love in those little works.

[1] Michael McCabe, Re-Discovering the Focus of Mission (Dublia: Irish Missionary Union, 1997), 2, quoted in Noel Connolly, “Ad Gentes to Evangelii Gaudium: Mission’s Move to Center,” The Australasian Catholic Record 92, no. 4(2015):389-390.