2020 sadly saw the loss of two giants of British Cinema. Firstly, Diana Rigg, star of the Avengers television show, where she played the cat-suited agent Emma Peel, and then Sean Connery, famous for his portrayal of James Bond. Both personified the suave 1960s spy image, with daring stories of espionage, and today I want to look at what it means to be on Christ’s mission and why He came.
In today’s reading, Jesus is troubled. Does that surprise you? The image many have of Jesus is a happy smiling hippy type who blesses small children and heals lepers. However, Jesus is in every way human, as He is divine. Like many affected by the pandemic, He is staring mortality in the face. Christ feels pain, and knows what it is to be in emotional distress. This shouldn’t concern us, but actually encourage us. Jesus, the Son of God, became like people to identify with our human condition, and to preach good news (Luke 4:43). That is what Christmas is all about. Despite his own personal struggle, Jesus’ mission is to destroy the works of the evil one; to undo the work of evil in the world and to redeem the human race (1 John 3:8). Despite intense hardship and pain, He fulfils it perfectly, and His mission is now complete.
For many, remaining hopeful can be a mission in itself. This past year, the world has undergone a time of great upheaval, as lives have been changed forever. It’s natural for people to feel depressed or lost, but Christ calls us to persevere. Today, the church remembers the life of the co-founder of the Jesuit movement Francis Xavier. You may remember the Jesuits from films such as ‘The Mission’ or ‘Silence’ by Martin Scorcese. The Jesuits often risked hardship and death to establish communities in various parts of the world, and both of these movies highlight how difficult this can be among severe persecution. Even today, many Christians suffer for their faith in countries around the world. And yet, their hope in Jesus, and the desire to fulfil His call to hope in God, stirs them on.
Wherever we are, our mission, if we choose to accept it, is to bring hope to those who need it. Maybe there are people in your community who need help with shopping. Maybe there is a vulnerable person on your street, or in your block who could do with a friendly phone call, or a socially distanced meet up where allowed. Maybe it’s time to think creatively about loving our neighbours as ourselves. This Christmas, let us make it our mission to bring hope to at least one person this year, even when our own lives feel difficult. Amen.
by Jeremy Dillon