“To be sent” is a defining characteristic of Christianity. The angel Gabriel "was sent” by God to Mary to initiate the work of our redemption.
John the Baptist “was sent” to prepare the way for Jesus. Reflecting on his own mission and on the mission he is now giving to his disciples, Jesus says: “As the Father sent me, so am I sending you”. At the end of Matthew’s Gospel, the disciples are told: “Go, make disciples of all nations”. After Pentecost the apostles are sent by the Spirit to preach: and especially to pagan, non-Jewish nations.
This “being sent”, this defining orientation of Christianity, comes from God’s very nature. Thomas Aquinas thinks of God as an “outpouring of God’s very self”, an outpouring of love; God cannot but pour himself out. Human beings are the result of this self-outpouring of God. Likewise, we must manifest God’s love to others. It is part of our Christian DNA to be sent to others. Made in the image and likeness of God, we cannot but announce to others God’s wonderful works.
When I was a novice, some 55 years ago, we had practice sermons. At the end of my very first sermon the priest in charge commented: “Well, Brother Tomlinson, you’ve got a lovely voice but nothing to say”. You may want to tell me afterwards that little progress has been made but it made me realise that being a Jesuit, being a priest, this “being sent” was a serious business. I’d better get down to prayer and study.
Today’s thinking is that not only priests and religious are “sent” to proclaim the Good News. Every Christian “is sent”. “But who am I?" you might say. Let us start with the most humble. I am no prophet, says Amos. I am only a shepherd. I look after sycamore trees. But God called me and sent me. It isn’t so much what you do. It doesn’t matter whether you are prime minister or a bus driver. It is who you are, namely a baptised Christian, that is important. Anything you do as a baptised Christian has the potential to proclaim the “Good News”.