“What is My Mission Today?”: Bishop John’s Homily on Ash Wednesday

Wednesday 22nd February 2023

Today, on the first day of Lent, Bishop John celebrated Mass for Ash Wednesday at Salford Cathedral. In his homily the bishop called for Lent to be a positive experience, rooted in love for one another. He challenged us to discover our mission day-by-day throughout the Lenten season, discovering how we can be ambassadors for Christ in our everyday lives. Read the full homily below:

For too many years as a younger man I always seemed to think of the Lenten season as something rather negative and just penitential. Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving all seemed to be introverted and looking to a quitter time, more introvert and a little bit gloomy, to be quite honest. And I’m not sure that that is what Lent is all about. I think Lent should actually be a very positive, challenging time.

You may have heard me quote this before, but one particular meditation of St John Henry Newman is very important to me. It begins: “God created me to do him some definite purpose. He committed some work to me he has not committed to another. I have my mission.” I think that’s a rather extraordinary statement, but I believe it. For God loves each one of us so much, that he’s given us our own individual mission. And because he’s given us a mission, we can be sure that he’s given us the gifts and the talents and the strength and the energy to fulfil that mission. But are we discovering it for what it is, day by day. Are we actually asking God:

What’s my mission today? What are you asking of me? What opportunities are you giving to me to be nothing less than, as St Paul says in that second reading, an ambassador for Christ.

I think Lent needs to be a time of very positive thinking. How can I be an ambassador for Christ today? And when we’ve got our own mission that doesn’t mean it’s written on a card somewhere and that’s your life-long story seen to, that’s your mission. No, I think our mission is very flexible because it’s one that’s built on love, and love is a very flexible opportunity. Each day, how do I love the person that God has put in my life today? How can I show kindness to this person in this situation?

So, I challenge you, as I’m challenging myself on Ash Wednesday. What is my mission? Our mission, today? And are we prepared to ask each day about our mission, so that we are open to all that God may want us to be, all that he has created us to be. Let’s think about that and make Lent a very positive occasion. God bless you all, and let’s begin this season of Lent with the very best of intentions to make the most of it this year, in a world that needs the love of Christ all around us.

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