From The Bishop's Desk
Here you will find valuable information directly from His Lordship, Bishop Robert A. Llanos to the members of the Diocese of St. John’s-Basseterre.
The Call to Missionary Discipleship
May the grace of the Holy Spirit flow abundantly through the Diocese of St. John’s-Basseterre in this new year bringing about the fullness of Christ in each of us and establishing the Kingdom of God in our midst. The world as we know it today is a world that is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous, and which gets more complicated every day. In such a world it is imperative that we establish a clear pattern upon which to move forward as a diocese, anchored in the tenets of our Catholic Faith and filled with the hope of those who put their trust in God. In order that we may do this as Church in this region, I am introducing in this short letter for our 2020 calendar the concept of the Missionary Disciple, which I hope will guide all the pastoral ministry of the Diocese over the next five years and beyond.
From the beginning, God the Father goes out of himself, as it were, to call us to share in his life and glory. This is the story of the people of Israel in Deuteron- omy, Exodus, Sirach and the Psalms etc., but in these last days he has spoken through Jesus (Hebrews 1 ff) with whom the fullness of time arrives (Galatians 4:4). God who is Holy and loves us, calls us through Jesus to be holy (Ephe- sians 1:4-5). This call to holiness is a call to discipleship through which we share in His mission, joy and sufferings (Luke 10; Matthew 13, Mark 1). Those who would follow Jesus the Christ however are called to a still more intimate communion with Him. “Abide in me, and I in him.” (John 6:56). Therefore, the call to discipleship is integral and essential to our salvation since it is at the heart of our relationship with God and our call to follow him through Baptism.
In the call of the first disciples, it was not they who chose their master but Christ who chose them. They were not chosen for something but for someone; chosen to be closely bound up with his person (Mark 1:17; 2:14). Jesus chose his disciples so that they may be with Him and He might send them forth to preach (Mark 3:14), so that they could follow him in order to “be His” and be part “of His own” and share in his mission. When Jesus ascended into heaven, He commanded his disciples to “go forth and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”. Those new disciples are you and me who have been baptized in the name of the Trinity. Just as in the case of the first disciples, we now have a mission to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ with our lives. As Pope Francis said in his Exhortation, Joy of the Gospel #120, “Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: we no longer say that we are “disciples” and “missionaries” but rather that we are always “missionary disciples”. If we are not convinced, let us look at those first disciples, who immediately after encountering the gaze of Jesus went forth to proclaim Him joyfully: “We have found the Messiah” (Apostolic Exhortation, Joy of the Gospel #120).
A missionary is one who having encountered Christ makes him the centre of his or her life and shares Christ with others joyfully. Having received Christ, his or her life is rooted in Christian principles and that life is shared with others in missionary activity. So, a “missionary disciple” is one who having encountered Christ, lives for Him and shares Him with others (Archbishop Jason Gordon, Catholic News, October 13, 2019). In the early church, to be a disciple was to be missionary disciples wherever one was. I expect that over the next five years, we will together as a Diocese, seek to realize this goal. I trust that over the next five years we will have many opportunities to accom- plish this goal, and I look forward to making this spiritual journey with you. A more complete evangelization document will be written and distributed early in the new year for the purpose of making this diocese a Missionary Dis- cipleship Diocese in the years ahead.
May the blessings of Almighty God come down upon you and remain with you forever and ever. Amen.
December 12, 2019