In the current issue of Magnificat (pp. 320-323), Father Richard Veras discusses World Mission Sunday (October 24). He suggests that the fellow Jesus cures in Decapolis in Mark, Chapter 5, is the first Christian missionary. Remember him? He’s the demon-crazed man in Gerasene territory, dwelling in the tombs and too strong to be shackled by chains. Once Jesus sends the demons into the herd of swine and they drown in the sea, the man begs to stay with Jesus, but Jesus commissions him to spread the good news. “‘Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.’ Then the man went off and began to proclaim in the Decapolis what Jesus had done for him; and all were amazed.” When Jesus returns to Decapolis in Mark 7, there are crowds eager to see him.
What made this mission successful, Veras says, was the man’s desire to be with Jesus; that’s the core of every true mission. “The Decapolitan was a walking sign of Christ’s love.” Among the Gentiles, he was perhaps a better missionary than Jesus could have been, as an unknown Galilean carpenter. Likewise, we are called to be missionaries where we live and work—walking signs of Christ’s love.