“Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two…” (Mark 6:7)
Some quick Greek and Latin lessons in order to better appreciate today’s Gospel. The Greek word for “to send out” is apostello. The term “apostle” comes from it. Jesus sent out his apostles for the purpose of “preaching repentance,” that is, to proclaim the good news, the Gospel, the euangelion in Greek. The heart of the good news that Jesus announced is this: “Repent. The Reign of God is at hand.” The word, repent, comes from the Greek, metanoia. It literally means to make a spiritual U-turn from our sinful, self-willful ways and to turn our hearts and minds in an outwardly oriented direction to God.
Just as Jesus summoned the Twelve and sent them out to preach repentance, so too does he summon us to do the same. Jesus summons us every time we celebrate at Mass. Let me explain. The Mass ends, not with the priest’s final blessing, but with the dismissal. The priest, or deacon, if there is one, dismisses the congregation. Many years back, the words of dismissal were announced in Latin: “Ite, missa est,” which translates to “Go, you are dismissed.” The term, Mass, carries the sense of mission. That word, “missa,” eventually became the name of the Eucharist, the Mass. Today, the priest or deacon pronounces the words, “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.”
The dismissal is not some ceremonial afterthought. No. The dismissal links the Eucharistic celebration with our mission in the world. The whole point of the Eucharist is mission. We are nourished first by the Word of God, then by the Body and Blood of Christ. Then Christ, through his ordained minister, summons us. Go. The Mass is ended. Christ, through the priest or deacon, calls us to mission, one that demands an authentic witness to the Gospel.
Our mission, “to glorify the Lord by your life,” simply means that we are live out our lives in accord with the Gospel message and to carry that message to our families, our neighbors, and the world. Like the Twelve, Jesus has summoned us to mission. He sends out to evangelize with the ancient words, “Ite! Missa est.”
Deacon Manuel Valencia is on the staff at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.