The most recurring meaning given to this missionary choice of Jesus is of a chronological order, often referring to a love lived until the end of his days, or of a quantitative order, a love that gives all of himself. And yet Jesus’ love to the core encompasses an upside-down vertically, a depth, a height (Eph. 3, 18) that every missionary, even if only for brief moments, has had the grace to experience in his life.
That God has saved us starting from the lowest, it is proved by the incarnation of the Word, the first missionary journey of the Apostle of the Father, that from God (John. 1,1) who has come to dwell among us (1,14). That descended from up there! The light of the world is immersed in the mud of humanity. And Jesus’ feet knew mud and sand, they got dirty in wandering from Galilee to Samaria, to Giudea, with a few detours in the Decapolis and in the regions of Tire and Sidon.
But what schocked and scandalized the Pharisees, the elders and the high priests of the Sanhedrin, the administrative, legislative and juridical tribunal of the time, was his mingling to the end with the lowest categories, excluded from salvation, according to the canons religious of the time: sinners, publicans and prostitutes (Mt 9,10-13; Mk 2,15-17; Lk 7,36-39; John 8,1-11); and stop (interact) with people wrapped in the shadow of death: the only son of the widow of Nain (Lk 7,11-17); the daughter of Jairus, the head of the Synagogue (Mk 5,21-43, Mt 9,18-26, Lk 8,40-56); Lazarus, who has been dead for four days now (John 11,17-44).
This downward journey, already traveled by Jesus during his earthly life, in his passion and death (Phil 2, 6-8), is definitively completed by the Risen Christ, on Easter Saturday. In his descent into hell to redeem those who they find temselves held captive in the jaws of death. This is a stage of the Easter Triduum, often little considered, although professed every Sunday in the apostolic symbol, which immerses us completely in the silence of God, in the darkness of sin, of our sins and those of all humanity, from which the risen Jesus snatches us away to transfer us to his Kingdom (Col. 1:13)
Another declination of this missionary choice that Jesus teaches his apostles is to recover the heart of the law, not to stop at the surface, to minimalist observance, but to go all the way, redeeming God’s orginal intention: Sabat for man and not man for Sabat (Mk 2,27), forgiveness 70 times 7 and not up to 7 times (Mt. 18,21-35), interior purity more than ablutions (Mt 23,25-26), mercy more than sacrifice (Mt 9, 13; 12,7)… A new law that touches the depths of the heart, where true intentions lurk and the daily choices of discipleship arise, but where the sting of sin can also crouch.
Advancing in the bottom in deep waters, like good fishermen of people, asks us for the courage to let ourselves be pierced by the Word of God which, like a double-edged sword, penetrates to the point of dividing soul and spirit, and discern the feelings and thoughts of the heart (Heb 4:12) A good start to go all the way in life!
Sr. Silvia Serra, General Direction
Sr. Silvia Serra, Missionary Sister of the Immaculate, a Missionary in South Brazile for 17 years, has done her Biblical studies in CEBI (Centro Ecumenico di Studi Biblici ) in Sao Paolo, and obtained a specialization in Biblical counseling at the EST University of San Leopoldo, Rio Grande Do Sul. She is currently at the service of the historical office of the Congregation.