This Sunday’s responsorial psalm (Go out to all the world and tell the Good News) has me thinking about being sent.
Here are three very different examples of sending, and how they might relate to our lives as disciples:
1) Third Base Coach Sending a Runner Home
I’ve been paying more attention to baseball over the past week because the unnamed team I root for has moved into playoff contention. One fun thing to watch in baseball is the third base coach sending a runner home. For instance: on a single to the outfield with a runner on second base, the runner in instructed to put his head down and run, since craning one’s neck toward the outfield while running is inefficient. A coach standing at third base has to decide whether to hold the runner up at third base, or to send him home.
My favorite sending third base coach is the San Francisco Giants’ Tim Flannery, who really gets into it and runs alongside the player toward the plate:
In this act of sending, Coach Flannery joins the runner in his quest and gives him a boost of energy. There’s a feeling both guys are in it together for the good of the team. “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers,” Pope Paul VI wrote, “and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.” The best mentors in faith are ones who model great discipleship through their actions.
2) University Official Sending My Parents Off Campus
My sister has just moved into her dorm for her freshman year of college, which has led me to reflect on my own first few days as an undergrad at the same university. My parents and I attended a handful of information sessions and other orientation activities before they left campus. During the final one of these gatherings, right before they’d be leaving, I felt nervous and homesick. To end the meeting, a university official stepped up to the podium and said, in her best race-track announcer voice, “Parents, start your engines.”
She knew there would be temptation to linger, but that it was important for the parents to say goodbye and for the students to jump into this new phase of life.
Great mentors and teachers know when it’s time to let go of their students. I think God’s gift of free will to us humans is kind of like this. God knows that for us to flourish, we have to make our own choices and travel our own journeys. Our guides are with us on the way, but how we choose to live our lives is ultimately up to each one of us.
3) Priest Sending the Faithful Out of Church
I love the Rite of Dismissal, and with our new Mass translation, there are now four options:
Go forth, the Mass is ended. Thanks be to God!
Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord. Thanks be to God!
Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life. Thanks be to God!
Go in peace. Thanks be to God!
Our word “Mass” comes from the Latin dismissal, which is Ite, missa est: Go, it is sent (it is the dismissal). So the action of leaving is just as important as the gathering. Nourished by Word, Eucharist, and the community, the presider tells us to scram and to bring God’s love with us.
This part of the Mass calls to mind the great story told in the Last Supper account in John’s Gospel, when Jesus washes the feet of his disciples and then tells them to go out and do the same.
Our faith is not a Sunday-only commitment, and the sending-out ritual built right into our liturgy is a clear reminder of that. So maybe after Mass this weekend, once you’ve greeted your friends, jog to your car or to your home and get to the work of glorifying the Lord by your life.