By Fr. Bill Nordenbrock, C.PP.S.
Praying with the scriptures today has missionary images dancing and intermingling in my heart and mind.
The first image St Paul gives us: A missionary is a mother who gives life to another and nurtures that life. The mother nursing her child at her breast, the child’s eyes locked on the face of the mother. The nurturing of child with milk, and more so, with a totally selfless love for the child. A missionary/mother giving of herself with an undeniable and never-failing love. Such sweet tenderness!
The dance partner is one of my favorite Precious Blood images, the Unity or Schoenstatt crucifix. Again, this is image of a mother and child and the self-giving of a life through divine love, but here it is the child who allows his life to be poured out for another in a sacrifice of love. The ever-faithful mother at his side, at one with him in the sacrifice, receiving the Precious Blood in a chalice so that it can be shared. It is offered to me and you, so that we are brought into that same communion of salvific love. Such sweet communion!
As these images dance and intermingle they question my missionary heart and mind.
- How does the love of a mother-God nurture my life and form me to be missionary in all that is to come?
- How in my missionary life am I to be like St Paul, a self-less loving mother who tenderly creates and nurtures the life of others?
- How am I to love in a profound and sacrificial way, like the child on the cross?
- And how am I to be the vessel, the participant who shares in the sacrifice and whose life is an offering of communion?
It is the interplay of those two mother and child images that expresses the challenging Gospel message. Jesus speaks of priests and church leaders. The command to us is to ensure that our missionary preaching is authenticated by our way of life. No cheap talk is permitted. He urges us to embrace a place of humble service and avoid places and positions of privilege and honor. It is as if he says to us:
- Be like me―Drink deeply of the love of God because it will strengthen you and give you life.
- Be like my mother―give lovingly of yourself to nurture the life of the helpless and those in need.
- Be like me―willing to pour out your life as a sacrifice for the life of others.
- And be like my mother―the vessel who carries my Precious Blood into the world.