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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

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Mission Is Possible: A Reflection - Sunil Mohanaraj


The 2015 National Oblate Youth Encounter (NOYE) was back on for the 15th consecutive year and once again it was a roaring success. The camp focussed on the theme ‘Mission Is Possible’ and participants were challenged to reflect on their mission from God and to act on it.

Over the four days, participants took part in workshops, discussion groups, team building activities and most importantly reconciliation and mass. While all these elements helped to reinforce the NOYE theme, it is the talks that I found to be the most insightful and that which I wish to focus on.

(For a detailed day by day account of NOYE15 – please CLICK HERE)

We all regularly hear the mantra that Christ has a mission for each of us, and while we may acknowledge it, have we truly acted on it? Are we open to his call or are we too scared to hear it? For a long time, I was certainly more of the latter. For me mission work was too difficult – you need to go to a country that is on other side of the world and to be honest what skills do I posses to do such work? It’s best that we leave it to the experts. However, the three talks presented on camp completely redefined my idea of mission. Each talk giver did an excellent job of showing how to embrace your mission if only we took the time to listen to God’s call.

James Edwards began with the first talk – ‘Is Mission Possible” where he gave us an insight into St. Eugene’s life and how he had allowed God into all parts of his life which ultimately led to his mission. It was incredible to hear that even with all his wealth and entitlements, Eugene ultimately sought fulfilment through his mission with the Oblates.

The second talk by Tony Pham, entitled ‘Mission is Possible’ explored the theme further by looking at the role of the community in our mission and how mission is only possible when we do things within a community. The community itself can take many shapes and forms – it doesn’t necessarily have to be Christian, but we need community to carry out our mission and most importantly we need to empower others within the community to allow for growth. This notion of community is clear in Christ’s own mission. He wasn’t a one man show. He had a community of disciples with him throughout his journey and after his death on the cross; it was his disciples that helped to continue the growth of the Christian community.

The last talk by Hayley Chapman rounded off the NOYE theme with ‘Possible Mission Is’. Here Hayley gave us concrete examples on how we can embrace our Christian mission. She drew on her own mission work around social justice and challenged us to do the same. It was inspiring to witness someone who was truly living out her mission.

At the conclusion of the talks, it dawned on me that to be Christian is to mission. By this I mean: to spread Christ’s love to others through our actions. I do not need to go to the other side of the world to mission – there are thousands of opportunities right here within our communities. While this may appear to many as a no brainer, to me it was an eye opener. We are all individually blessed with certain talents and to not use it for the betterment of others is a crime on our faith. The key is inviting Christ into every aspect of your life to help you discern your mission. It may sound simplified, but in our secular community it is harder than ever- there are a multitude of distractions that prevent us from embracing our mission. But I think that is the beauty of it – mission isn’t easy. If it was then everyone else would be doing it. It’s a challenge and as Christians we need to embrace this challenge wholeheartedly. As St. Eugene famously put it: “There is no room for smouldering wicks, I want you to burn or get out!”

To conclude, I’ll leave you with this: as per tradition, we picked a secular song as the theme song for NOYE– this year’s being Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars. While it was a great song to dance and sing to on camp, it ultimately serves a greater purpose post NOYE – that being a reminder to the participants of their experiences at NOYE. It’s fair to say that till today every time I hear that song on the radio I’m invoked by memories of NOYE 2015 and most importantly it makes me question myself. What have I taken away from NOYE this year? Am I open to God’s call? Am I carrying out my Christian mission?

By Sunil Mohanaraj

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