Living a Life of Service and Thanksgiving
Understanding the Redemptorist Mission
“The Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, founded by St. Alphonsus, is a clerical missionary religious Institute of pontifical right….Its purpose is to follow the example of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, by preaching the word of God to the poor, as he declared of himself: “He sent me to preach the Good News to the poor.” — Constitution 1, “The Apostolic life of Redemptorists”
The Goodness and Mercy of God
The mission of the Redemptorists (the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer) has become, for my fellow Redemptorists and me, the central focus of our lives, something I personally try to better understand each day of my life.
One thing that helps is to recognize that the Redemptorists do not have a formal mission. God has a mission. Our founder, St. Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787), understood God’s mission to be our Creator’s desire for the salvation of all people.
God’s mission is also synonymous with God’s goodness and mercy, which is evident in the whole of creation. Alphonsus believed and taught that God’s mission must emanate goodness and mercy toward others and for the benefit (salvation) of others.
This goodness and mercy is most fully revealed in Jesus and the redemption he garnered for us. So to talk about a Redemptorist mission would not be exactly accurate. Rather, God’s mission—the spread of the goodness and mercy of God and the desire of God for the salvation of all—has a congregation. As one of my theology professors, Anthony Gittins, liked to remind us, “The Church doesn’t have a mission, the mission has a Church!”
To Be Missionaries
Instead of trying to understand the mission aligned with Redemptorists I have found it helpful to understand myself as a missionary.
Among Redemptorists, we have often understood the word missionary to refer to those who are part of the foreign missions or those who preach parish missions. As our current Superior General Michael Brehl is fond of pointing out, the term actually refers to all who have been called to the Redemptorist life. To help us understand ourselves as missionaries, our constitutions refer us to the Gospel of Mark 3:14. Mark explains that Jesus “appointed twelve [whom he also named apostles] that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach.” The passage reminds Redemptorists that we are to be with Jesus.
Our call is to be taken up into the goodness and mercy of God that comes to us in Jesus Christ. From that experience of the Redeemer, we are sent out in his name to proclaim the message of salvation.
We Redemptorists often refer to the experience of the merciful love of God as “plentiful redemption.” That phrase aptly describes the effusive quality of God’s love. We are part of that ever-expanding goodness, that eternal desire of God to redeem all.
To be sent by Jesus, therefore, isn’t really like being given a job. More accurately, we have been taken up into God’s goodness and mercy. To truly experience it, there is nothing to do but share it with others. To know God’s goodness is to be good to others. To know God’s mercy is to be merciful to others. To know salvation is to preach plentiful redemption to others.
To read more, subscribe to Liguorian.