Bishop Ger Nash
Mission Statements are a relatively recent invention. They are usually quite short, only a paragraph or two. You can see them in the front hallway in hospitals, factories and schools, Garda Stations, sports clubs and charitable organisations have them also.
Who are they written for?
Mission Statements are written firstly for the customers/clients of an organization. They inform the public who read them what kind of service they can expect. They tell the reader what the organization will try to do best. Secondly, they are written for the employees or the people who will be providing the service. They help to build a sense of team amongst the workers so that they can feel that they are co-operating in a common task and so feel that each individual role is meaningful.
How are they written?
Most Mission Statements are composed after considerable consultation and discussion. People with all sorts of links to the organization are invited to say what they think the organization does best and what it should concentrate on in the future.
And in this Sunday’s Gospel we have Jesus Mission Statement from the very beginning of His ministry and declared for the first time to His neighbours and neighbours’ children. And He didn’t write it himself. He knew where to look in the Book of Isaiah in His own native synagogue where He had gone since He was a child. And Isaiah, wrote it 600 years before Jesus was born. Jesus was exactly what Isaiah had promised and all Jesus had to do was to convince people that He was the Messiah they had been waiting for. Problem was that they had already decided what the Messiah would look like. He would be a powerful political leader who would be king in the traditional sense. He would be at ease with the rich and powerful and kind but not too close to the poor and outsiders. He would be “one of us”, not “one of them”. Jesus Mission Statement, including bringing good News to the poor was not what they had in mind at all. And as we shall see next week, nothing annoys people more than when their hopes are not fulfilled according to their plan.
Like our modern examples, Jesus Mission statement and His proclamation of it in the Synagogue had the twofold purpose mentioned above. It told the onlookers who He was and what He would be doing in the years ahead and who He would be building relationships with. It was also an invitation to those who would work with him, the disciples who would follow him and who would carry on His Mission when He was no longer with them. Like the onlookers they too would struggle to understand but they would be open the challenges He set before them. But it did bind them together in the common task and gave them the path to follow after Jesus Death and Resurrection.