This Sunday, our scripture focusses on mission. Christ tells us to go out into the world and witness to, and draw others to him by word and example. Lets confess ways we fail in this..
Today, the gospel asks each of us to go into the world and bear fruit from union with him. I say each of us, for all too often we see mission as priests or religious going abroad. But, as Theresa of Liseux reminds us, we’re should be missionaries where we are. She never left her convent, yet she is patron of the missions.
Indeed, she tells us that Christ depends on each of us to be his light to the world now. We were anointed at baptism to do that, and at Confirmation received the Spirit to go out and proclaim the Good New of salvation to all. Moroever, at his Ascension Christ sent the apostles, and all of us their successors, to spread his gospel and build his church. That such evangelization is a duty of all God’s people was re-emphasised by Vatican 11. It said all the faithful must get down into the trenches with the Lord; as eucharistic ministers, readers, altar servors, financial contributors, and above all as everyday examples of Christian witness. Such witness was never more needed today when many are abandoning their Christian birthright, going back to the darkness from which Jesus delivered humankind. There they fall easy prey to the world’s shallow values, to Satan, to drink, drugs, violence and soul-destruction. To bring as many as possible of these children back to Christ and the church’s loving arms, is the most urgent task of each Christian today.
Christ ascended to the Father, and is with us as Risen Lord until the end of time, but he needs our hands to do his work on earth. Besides active work, we can do this is by prayer. Look at St.Theresa. She spent her short life in prayer, and is patron of the missions. Giving her that role the church is saying that mission is furthered especially by fervent prayer. Thats why I ask daily mass-goers and communicants to pray for young people today. For deluded by the empty values of a passing world, many are endangering their souls. They’re abandoning their Saviour and his church, and going unprotected against evil into the darkness of a world in which Satan often reigns. To them we must restore Christ’s saving light & love – by both personal and communal prayer – mass and the sacraments, and by active evangelisation.
For mission starts at home, and then radiates outwards to bring Christ to those who’ve never heard of him. So while doing our bit at home, we might also continue to support with prayer and money those who travel to the ends of the earth with the good news. Thank God we’re doing that. As the bishop said in a letter for Mission Sunday, in the past years our diocese contributed 183,000 euro to the church abroad. As John Paul 11 said, such contributions bring more and more out of a desert of poverty, injustice, as well as godless darkness.
Indeed, today we pray also for the aid workers who died in recent times doing God’s work, fighting world poverty. Their energy is also rooted in our generosity, prayer and sacrifice. Our missionariess in the past came from the faith of a generous spiritual people. Its the same today. Let me end with the story of a man picking an orchard of apples. His friend said: you must’ve done a lot of work to produce this crop. No, the man said; last spring while I was asleep my bees, my secret workers did the work, pollinating these plants. Each Christian is one of those bees in God’s fruitful orchard. That’s how both the home and world orchard will produce a great harvest for Christ, the only Lord of love, goodness and salvation forever and ever, amen.
So as generous witnesses for Christ, lets profess our faith…
Prayers of the faithful
For our holy Father and all the leaders of the church that their missionary zeal may lead to a new spring of faith in the world..
For our civil leaders that they may put no obstacles in the way of the church’s nurturing and spreading of the faith..
For our youth that they may have the idealism and enthusiasm to go out to the whole and spread the Good News..
For ourselves in our homes that we may bequeth to our children the greatest gift of all, the faith that is a pearl of great price for this world’s fullness and their eternal happiness..
For the sick, the aged and the housebound, may they offer their invaluable prayers and suffering for the salvation of the world..
For the dead that through our prayer, a great mission in itself, they may come to their eternal rest with God and all the saints who have gone before them to everlasting life..
We ask all these things through Christ our Lord who is forever the light of the world, amen.
You may know the story of Francis Xavier, perhaps the greatest of all missionaries. A Jesuit priest, he sailed from his native Spain to bring the Good News to the vast countries of the East. There in India and other eastern lands, he wore himself out working day and night, preaching and baptising and building up Christian communities. Tragically, he died on the eve of a great mission to China. We pray that we’ll all have similar zeal for the faith and we ask Mary to help missionaries today..Hail Mary.