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GOD'S MISSION IN THE WORLD (MISSIO DEI)
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Saturday, Easter Saturday, April 06, 2013
Acts 4:13-21, Ps. 117, Mark 16:9-15


"Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:15-16).


Here we see God's mission in the world (Missio Dei) in its highest form, which he works through sending his Son in the Holy Spirit. The fullness of God's mission in the world is the sending of his Son for our salvation. The Son became incarnate and left us his flesh and blood, containing his divine person with his divine nature and human nature, sacramentalized for us in the form of bread and wine, which we eat and drink with faith during the Mass for the life of our spirit, for our illumination, divinization, and transformation in Christ, so that we become a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17), new men in Jesus Christ (Eph. 4:22-24), thus renewing the face of the earth.


The Father always works through the Son in the Holy Spirit. God's supreme act of salvation was the sending of his Son to suffer death, which was the punishment for the sin of Adam (Gen. 2:17; Rom. 5:12-21). He suffered this punishment instead of us, on our behalf, on the cross to free us from this punishment by serving our death sentence for Adam's sin and for our sins for us, thus propitiating divine justice and making the necessary just reparation and satisfaction for our sins. The Father thus through the Son paid Adam's debt--the debt of the human race--for us, thus expiating all sin and freeing us from its punishment, namely death.


In the Bible death is not annihilation, but separation from God, for the dead continued to exist in Sheol-Hades (the Underworld) or in hell. Physical death is the separation of the soul from the body. Before Christ, all the dead went either to the Underworld (Sheol-Hades) or to hell. But the death of Christ, in destroying our death, opened up to all who believe in him eternal life with God in heaven in splendor and light.


The greatest mission of God (Missio Dei) in the world is the sending of his Son for the salvation of the human race, cleansing us of sin and guilt by expiating our sins in his death, which paid our debt of punishment for our sins for us, thus opening up eternal life in union with God in heaven for all who believe in Christ. Christ carried out God's greatest mission on earth and sent his disciples to preach the good news of this salvation to every creature, saying, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:15-16). We, the followers of Christ, his Church, have received from him this mission, or commission, to preach this salvation unto the ends of the earth.


A Christian will do many good works for the benefit of the world, but it is an error to say that these good works are the true mission of God (Missio Dei) in the world today, as opposed to the mission of the Church to administer Christ's salvation through word and sacrament. This is a false Missio Dei theology. The fullness of God's mission in the world (Missio Dei) is what the Father is now doing through his Son in his incarnation and death on the cross for the salvation of all who believe in Christ. All that the Father is doing in the world is oriented toward and crowned in this. If we want to unite ourselves more closely to God's mission (Missio Dei) in the world, we will do so in the fullest way by uniting ourselves to the saving work and mission of his Son Jesus Christ. Then there are many other good works that we may also do.

 

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