The Paschal Mystery in all its aspects
“I even consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Ph 3: 8). (And also : Ep 3: 19). Saint Paul in his very special way, but also the other Apostles in very different circumstances and unforeseen, by the witness of their life and their death showed they ‘ knew ‘ Jesus died and rose again.
“We must empty our hearts of these things so that our divine Master may be free to fill them with his own sentiments, his own thoughts, his own judgments, which will be sometimes perhaps very different from ours” (De Brésillac, Retreat to missionaries p. 33). This quotation from our Founder is rooted in Phil 2:5-11, a text which is at the background Paul’s spiritual and missionary dynamism as stated in Phil 3:6-14 and 1Cor 9:1-23. Christ emptied himself of every power related his divine sonship in order to behave as a slave servant. Likewise, Paul the Jew considered as garbage all that was for him source of pride as far as his Jewish identity is concerned. In saying this in Ph 3:2b-8, he used a mercantile vocabulary (to gain / profit – to loose / lost, cf. Phil 3:7-8). Moreover, he preached the gospel free of charge, renouncing to all his apostolic rights and privileges (cf. 1Cor 9:15s). Preaching the gospel free of charge, that was his salary ! This pauline paradox is indeed a food for thought with regard to our rapport to Mission, Money and Power. At times, « Power » and « Money » can undermine the apostolic work, paralyse communion in service and drive our energies away from missionary priorities that implies lost (free investment of resources) towards apostolic activities considered as capable of generating incomes (profits). But, in actual fact, the way of Christ is that of loosing: the lost, the death of the ego in the obedience to the authority, the lost of unfruitful aspects of particular identities in order to build an international missionary family… Driven by all these sentiments that paralyse the authentic announcement of the gospel, the word of God and the appeal of our Founder invite, on one hand, to an experience of kenosis, that is emptiness of our hearts, death to ourselves and on the other hand, to put money at the service of mission and not mission at the service of money.
Here is a question to carry on the reflexion: « How do I continually assess the balanced hierarchy of my rapport to money and power in my relationship to my neighbour and to God who sends me to mission? »
Rémi Fatcheon SMA