Questions about mission and vision

Throughout sacred Scripture, those who seek God’s will demonstrate great faith even as they ask some challenging questions. When the angel declared to Mary that she would bear the Savior she wondered, “How can this be, since I do not know man?” Peter asked of the Lord, “To whom shall we go?” Jesus pleaded, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Some people are reluctant to ask God questions. They may feel asking a question is an indication of weakness in faith or of doubting God. I recall a statement from Father John Connelly, of Sacred Heart Parish in Newton, when he was my teacher at St. John’s Seminary: One thousand questions do not necessarily equal a doubt.

These questions from Scripture, and many others like them, may be a means for strengthening faith. When we ask God questions, we open ourselves to God’s answer. As vicar general and moderator of the curia, I have been asking myself three questions about our mission and vision in the Archdiocese of Boston. I have asked those with whom I minister to consider them as well. I present these questions for your Lenten reflection as you seek to grow in the Lord.

Am I giving glory and honor to God?

What matters most in life is that we give glory and honor to God. I am convinced that if we remain God-centered and other-focused, then many of the wounds of the past few years in the Church community will begin to be healed. Cardinal Seán has described the mission of the Church in Boston as, “to know, love and serve God and to love and serve one another.” The more we come to know God, the more we want to give Him glory and honor. One of the greatest means of giving God glory and honor is to serve people who are most in need.

Am I serving Christ and His Church?

I ask myself this question to remind myself that I must be about service. Throughout Lent, the Church and the liturgy uphold the value of service. We hear Jesus proclaiming in Matthew 20, “...the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.” My commitment is to lead, minister and serve with the Heart of Jesus. There may be days or moments when I fall short of this goal, but service must be the mark of my life and of our life together.

Am I honoring and respecting those whom I serve and those with whom I serve?

My hope is that every person who is served by the Church, and anyone who visits our offices located throughout the archdiocese, be shown honor and respect. Just as Jesus encountered every person with absolute honor and respect, so we are called to uphold the dignity and value of every human life and of every human struggle. There will be times that as Catholics we disagree, but my hope is that disagreements can result in Christian and constructive dialogue for the benefit of all. Additionally, this question emphasizes that charity begins at home. The honor and respect we show to those whom we serve must be equaled by the honor and respect we show to those with whom we serve.

These three questions are ultimately about mission and vision. The mission of the Archdiocese of Boston is to carry on the ministry of Jesus Christ. These three questions present a vision where we are ministering with glory, honor, service and respect. The prophet Micah (6:8) captures our mission and vision well when he calls us to a life where we act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with our God. Any questions?

Father Erikson is Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia of the Archdiocese of Boston.

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