We near the end now of the church year and she starts to warn us about the end things, death and judgement. Not to frighten but to keep us on the right path to happiness here and hereafter. Lets confess any ways we stray from God’s straight path..
Remember the old missionaries and their rousing talks on death and judgement. Some were preachers of hell fire. Now we avoid that and stress God’s love. But a certain amount of warning about our salvation and responsibility for the salvation of others is salutary. This Mission Sunday St.Paul reminds us of that duty. and it involves more than supporting missions abroad. Theresa of Liseux says we can all evangelize wherever we are. and She, who never left her convent, is universal patron of the missions.
Christ’s saving work starts at home. At baptism we were anointed for that work and at confirmation we promised in the words of the old catechism to “be strong and perfect Christians and soldiers for Jesus Christ”. The war of good and evil is endless. So Christians must be active workers for Christ in the world. As Vatican 11 says: “Christians can never be passive before the church’s saving work”. We must all live out the dynamic prophetic and priestly role we received at baptism and confirmation when we promised not just to save ourselves but others and the world in whatever way we can.
That work is not just for priests or religious. Lay people are asked to take up that role now as eucharistic ministers, readers, altar servers, mass goers and financial contributors. We should also be active Christians at home and in the workplace and this was never more needed. In recent elections I saw candidates reluctant to admit their Catholic faith, almost apologizing for their belief. How sad when our ancestors defended the faith unto death at mass rocks. But persecution now is more subtle and deadly. Lets not be pawns of relentless secular ideology but stand up and be counted for Christ, lest our children have no spiritual birthright, but the pearl of their immortal souls cast before the swine of a faithless world of which Satan is lord.
Last Sunday Christ said: ” Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s”. How many now give all, even their souls, to Caesar and nothing to God. But what use will Caesar be in the end when our souls will be required of us. But even for this world we need the inner happiness, strength and grace of faith. Only God nourishes the inner souls we need to fill so that we can bring others to Christ and eternal life. That’s our mission. Lets do it courageously and to give us the inner grace to do so, lets often turn to prayer. For mission begins in Sunday Eucharist and personal prayer. We can only render to God what is his, if we first know Him through worship. Then we’ve the light to inspire others to go on mission abroad. By and large we are supporting with prayer and money exiles, who, as John Paul 11 says, not only bring faith to millions but also help them out of a desert of poverty and injustice. Let me end with the story of a man picking apples. His friend said: you must’ve done a lot of work to produce this crop. “No”, he said, “last spring my secret bees did the work”. Lets all be bees in God’s orchard enabling the world to produce an ever greater harvest of happiness and salvation in Christ. For the things of this world pass and leave us empty but He’s Lord of truth, happiness and love both for this world and forever and ever amen. So as God’s people, furthering Christian mission in a world crying out for the inner riches of Christ and the eternal salvation of their immortal souls, 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 nurturing and spreading of the faith..
For our youth that they may have the idealism and enthusiasm to go out the whole and spread the Good News..
For ourselves in our homes that we may bequeath to our children the greatest gift of all, the faith that is their pearl of great price for this world and forever..
For the sick, the aged and the housebound that they may offer their prayers and sufferings 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 and happiness 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 countries he wore himself out working day and night, preaching and baptizing and building up Christian communities. Tragically, he died on the eve of a great mission to China. Like him we pray that we’ll all have the same zeal for the faith and we ask Mother Mary to help all missionaries today..Hail Mary.