Holy Apostles College & Seminary
Jesus on the Missionary Vocation
Dr. Marianne Siegmund
PAS 511: Mission and Evangelization
1 February 2018
Everyone is called, in some way or another, to partake in the Church’s mission to mankind. “All who are called to follow Christ are sent by Christ.” This doesn’t mean that everyone’s required to go to South America or Africa to try and evangelize tribal peoples. While this is surely what some are called to do, what everyone is called to do is to recognize and act on the fact that they are sent by God to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to anyone around them who has not yet properly heard of Him. Thankfully, Our Lord does not leave us unprepared for what He asks us to do. At the end of the fifteenth chapter of the Gospel according to John, Jesus gives both encouragement and the starting point of an explanation for our missionary vocation.
In verse eighteen, Jesus points out that “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before you” (RSVCE). He further notes that we should
“Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But all this they will do to you on my account, because they do not know him who sent me” (vv. 20-21, RSVCE).
In saying all of this, He offers us a sort of boost of morale during the tougher parts of evangelization, essentially saying “If they treat you like dirt, it’s not necessarily because you did something wrong, but because you’re doing well at representing Me.” This is important for us to remember when those we try to evangelize seek to drag us down with resentment or coldness or by trying to make us feel guilty or stupid. They did the same to Christ before us; and we know He was right in what He said.
Our Lord was also right in saying that “If [He] had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin” (v. 22). But this might arouse a very important question, which will lead to a key way of viewing the Church’s mission: if His speaking to certain people would cause them to have sin, then why would He go to them? Isn’t sin what He came to save us from? He most certainly did; but one of the effects of sin is ignorance. God gave mankind the gift of free will, to choose to be with Him or against Him. It is His will that all of us should be able to use it. Ignorance of God, however, prevents a person from doing this. Therefore, in a certain sense, even if one were to use his will to reject God (though hopefully he would not), it would seem to be better than if he were to remain ignorant concerning God—for the latter would mean that his God-given gift of free will was being stifled. This, then, could be said to be one reason why we are called to evangelize those who would otherwise be ignorant of God and of objective moral values, and might end up being “saved” on account of their ignorance. While it is certainly true that “in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him,” ignorance is ignorance, and is thus still an inhibition of the free acceptance of Himself God desires for us. “[T]he Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men.”
Christ not only prepares us for evangelization, but is “with [us] always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28:20). Along with this being the case as far as His being in our hearts and in the Tabernacles of our Churches, He is also with us in His words of advice and insight, and in His Eternal Word as a whole. We are not left alone in our part in the Church’s mission; quite the contrary, He Who sends us is with us every step of the way.
 Marianne Siegmund, class notes on The Trinitarian Foundation of Mission and Evangelization (Cromwell, CT: Holy Apostles College & Seminary, distributed 15 January 2018), q. Hardon, Modern Catholic Dictionary.
 Marianne Siegmund, class notes on The Nature of Mission and Evangelization (Cromwell, CT: Holy Apostles College & Seminary, distributed 15 January 2018).
 CCC, 848, q. AG 7.
Catechism of the Catholic Church. 2nd ed. At St Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, at http://www.scborromeo.org.
Siegmund, Marianne. Class notes on The Nature of Mission and Evangelization. Cromwell, CT: Holy Apostles College & Seminary, distributed 15 January 2018.
Siegmund, Marianne. Class notes on The Trinitarian Foundation of Mission and Evangelization. Cromwell, CT: Holy Apostles College & Seminary, distributed 15 January 2018.
The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition. At Bible Gateway, at http://www.biblegateway.com.