Today at Mass, three teens shared their experiences about recent missions trips. They mentioned how rewarding and how blessed they were to be able to help those in need. They also mentioned how blessed they were by how those whom they helped loved life genuinely and simply.

The Fourth Gospel expresses the Incarnation of the Word-Son in the sense of mission, probably not unlike a mission trip today. The Word must leave what is familiar and must enter into foreign land, foreign existence, foreign way of living. In this sense, this is similar to a foreign mission trip where those commissioned generally enter into a foreign way of life. Then again, the Word also comes unto his own, and this perhaps can be related to a domestic mission.

Like missionaries are commissioned, so the Son is commissioned by the Father. More than that, God gives his Son to the world so that it might receive eternal life by believing in him. In turn, the one who believes in the Son believes in the Father who sent him (the model here is the Jewish law of agency). The mission of the Son is expressed in terms of judgment (John 5:22, 27; 8:26), giving of life through resurrection (6:39–40), speaking/giving the words of God (3:34; 12:49–50), freeing those in bondage to sin (8:36), laying his life down for the sheep (10:11, 15–18), being a light (12:46), giving the words of God (12:49–50), and glorifying (7:18; 11:4) and returning to the Father (13:1; 16:28).

What is striking is that Jesus accomplishes these aspects of his mission through human interaction. Through serving others, Jesus exemplifies his mission in miracles, teaching, healings, and prayers. Jesus’ entire mission is rooted in love: God’s very being is love, God loves the world, Jesus offers us to remain in his love, and Jesus issues the new commandment to love others just as Jesus loves us. This is the essence and mission of Christianity.