Pope Francis dreams of a Church where every believer becomes a “missionary disciple.” It is a Church with open doors, where those who gather inside do not remain cooped up but instead go forth to love and serve the Lord.
With his mixed metaphors, Jesus warns us that such missionary discipleship is hard (just a few workers must bring in the whole harvest) and can be dangerous (wolves are everywhere). Though we set out with others, our friends may desert us. We will not always be welcome. An offer of help or a well-intentioned word might be rejected or met with cold indifference.
In the face of these challenges, Jesus offers the following advice: “Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household.’ If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you.”
So often I imagine peace as a set of circumstances outside of myself, as if my peacefulness depends on everything around me. Jesus, with his image of peace going forth from me, resting on another or returning to me, reverses this assumption. Peace begins with Christ in me. I offer it to others, but it does not depend on them. Even if they refuse it, I do not lose it, as long as I cultivate it in my heart. And so every missionary must also be a mystic—in the most ordinary and everyday sense, namely, someone who experiences God’s peace within and allows it to radiate out to the world.