Every Christian is a ‘Christopher’ says Pope Francis in one of his audiences with the faithful in Vatican City this February. In connection with the year of mercy, the Pope teaches that every Christian has another name – Christopher – which means “bearer of Christ”. In his teachings, Pope Francis shows that there is much interplay between mercy and mission. Every mission is mercy brought to life.
The value of mercy becomes very important while reflecting on the topic of frontiers. By inaugurating the year of mercy, the Pope reminds us that the Church is a house of mercy and every Christian is a missionary of mercy. The priests and religious, who are the models of Christian life, need to be true leaders by living genuinely as witnesses of mercy.
The General congregations of the Society of Jesus have often defined Jesuit life and mission as “at the new frontiers”. We are called to be on a lookout at the new frontier ministries which involve a constant discerning attitude. The search for the frontiers in our mission is a never ending search which is accompanied by concrete action. Our search for the frontiers and the spirit of readiness to serve ensure that our overall mission in general remains relevant and it is truly a service of love.
What makes a particular ministry or a mission a frontier? A frontier is a place of priority. It is an occasion of pressing need or challenge that awaits a response or attention. Most often, a frontier becomes a mission that is most neglected by the majority. It is a periphery that is crying for attention. Therefore it calls for the people of God to be concerned about the frontiers with the same attitude of mercy with which “the three Divine Persons gazed on the whole circuit of the world” and “decided that the second person should become a human being in order to save the human race” (Spiritual Exercises 102) the call of the frontier is addressed by a response of generous love and service.
In the December 2015 issue of KSJ Writer’s Forum, we reflected on the topic of “Saviour in Today’s World” and we put forward our thoughts on what it means to be ‘saved’ in today’s context. While in that issue we looked at the “saviours”, in this issue we shall fix our attention at the people who await deliverance and emancipation. A frontier is a battlefield for today’s saviours and in this battlefield the Good News of Christ brings cure to many of our ills.
A final note of wisdom from the Bhagavad Gita. While instructing Arjuna on the right type of charity, Lord Krishna says, “That gift which is given, knowing it to be a duty, in a fit time and place, to a worthy person, from whom we expect nothing in return, is held to be Sattvic.” (BG Chapter XVII verse 20). Lord Krishna’s words let us know that we should be doing the right action at the right time for the right people. To be able to know the right things to be done, we need to be men familiar with the murmurings and the shouts of the Spirit.