World Mission Sunday
Readings: 1st: Is 45, 1. 4-6; Ps 95, 3-5. 7-10 2nd: I Thes 1, 1-5; Gos: Mt 22, 15-21
This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico, the island of enchantment. He is the Chancellor of the Dioceses of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico; the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canovanas and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic. For more details and comments contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
“How can they believe, if they have not heard the message? How can they hear, if the message is not proclaimed? How can the message be proclaimed, if the messengers are not sent out? How wonderful is the feet of the preachers of the good news!” (Ro 10:14ff).
Today, the 29th Sunday of ordinary time is World Mission Sunday. Today many people still do not know Christ. For this reason, the mission “ad gentes” continues to be most urgent. All the members of the Church are called to participate in this mission. Today is a privileged moment when the faithful of various continents engage in prayer and concrete gestures of solidarity in support of the young Churches in mission land.
It is a celebration of grace, because the Holy Spirit, sent by the Father, offers wisdom and strength to those who are obedient to his action. It a celebration of joy, because Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, sent to evangelize the world, supports and accompanies our missionary efforts (Pope Francis).
In the first reading of this Sunday, God makes clear his choice of Israel. In a most surprising way too, he makes known his choice of a foreign king (Cyrus), whom Isaiah referred to as “God’s anointed instrument.” His choice of this “Pagan king” as his anointed was for a purpose. This was to make known His name among other nations.
Therefore, like both Cyrus and Israel, God has chosen us. He has called us to be part of this same project, which is: “that men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun that, apart from me, all is nothing.” This is a call to all God’s people, to go and make Him known to the ends of the earth. That is, from North to South, and from East to West.
In the second reading of today, Paul, and his companions prayed for the church of Thessalonica. They have preached the good news there and knew that only prayer can sustain their work. Therefore, it is important we continue to pray for missionaries as the Holy Father reminds us today.
We are called to play the same significant role played by St. Theresa of the Child Jesus. She never went on any foreign mission. Yet, she was fervent in her prayers for the success of missionaries. Today she is the patron saint of missionaries. Paul realized the importance of prayers for the success of his mission, so he pleaded: “Pray also for me, that I may be bold in speaking about the gospel as I should” (Eph 6:19-20).
In today’s gospel, the Pharisees were looking for a way to discredit Christ’s message. This gospel reminds us of a very important reality that every missionary faces. In as much as we preach the good news, detractors and difficulties abound. Hence, the Pharisees in today’s gospel represent the different obstacles a missionary must encounter in the course of his work. They come in different shapes and forms. They come like tests, various forms of temptations, doubts, persecutions, threats to life, calumny, and alienation or loneliness, even in the midst of people.
Therefore, for a missionary to overcome all these and be successful especially in today’s world, he or she must be as wise as a serpent, and yet as gentle as a dove (Mt 10:16). He must be a person of prayer and strong faith. He must learn to live a alone with God because, God will always be there for him, but men will not. A missionary must make the Holy Spirit his teacher and partner who, is the principal agent of mission as Christ promised: “The Advocate will teach you everything…Do not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.” (Jn 14:26; Lk 21, 14-16). He must not be driven by the love of this world like Dimas, who abandoned Paul for the love of this world (2Tim 4:9). Rather, he must be driven by love for God and for His people.
Finally, a missionary must be ready at all times to sacrifice and surrender all (including his life) for God’s mission. The joy of being a missionary does not actually come from how much material gifts one receives. Rather, it comes from how much lives one touches, and how much joy one is able to bring to others. It also comes from, how much love he is able to communicate to others through the gospel.
Peace be with you all.