Mission Sunday 2014
Isaiah 45:1, 4-6
1 Thessalonians 1:1-5
Today we are invited to think about the missionary work of the Church, to broadne our horizon beyond our own parish / diocese / village / town / country. We are invited to recognize that the Church is catholic in the true sense, universal. And because the Church is universal then it must ‘go out’ beyond its own boundaries. In other words it must be ‘missionary’. And if the Church is not acting in a missionary way it is NOT Church. And the Church is not something ‘out there’ or just a building or a group of clergy and bishops. No! The Church is each and every man, woman and child who has been baptised.
Accepting that the Church is missionary by its very nature – i.e. that just as God sent Jesus so too every baptised person is sent by the Church. Sent for what? To proclaim the Christian Message that ‘God loves me’ or as this year’s Mission Sunday Message title puts it: ‘That you may have life’.
Read Pope Francis’s Mission Sunday Message.
The mission of the Church is to proclaim that message, not just by words but also through its actions. We must help those less fortunate to have life. Not just a spiritual life but food,shelter, water… the basics for a HUMAN life. And whenever the Church (i.e. you or I or other Church members) fail to do so, then we are not acting as missionaries. In fact, as we all now know too well, there have been too many instances when the message of Christ was not preached and the work, not of God, but of the Devil was done.
That you may have life
In order to preach – by word and action – this message it is imperative that I first know what this means for me. And so the first missionary journey is for me to go into the depths of my own heart and mind and discover what God’s love for me means. And when I see all that the Lord has given me then I’m able to go to others and try to help them have that same experience.
It is because of our baptism that we are missionaries. The Baptism ceremony (which most of us knew nothing about at the time of our own baptism) commissions us to go out and preach the Gospel – not in a showy way, but by the way we live every day of our lives. When anointed with the Oil of Chrism we are commissioned to act as ‘priest, prophet and King’. When we receive the Lighted Candle we are told to keep the flame of faith alive in our hearts. We keep an ordinary fire alight by putting wood or coal (smokeless of course) on it; we keep the flame of faith alive by prayer and good deeds.
The vast majority of Church members will do this in their day-to-day lives as single or married, employed, without work, retired, students, physically challenged etc etc. But there are a small number who will leave their own country and people and go to a foreign place to preach the message that God loves the people there too. God wants them to also experience life in all its fullness. And, through many different activities – clinics, schools, provision of water etc etc – they will make those three simple words ‘real’ in the situation where they find themselves.
On this Mission Sunday, in an Ireland racked from the mismanagement of some, may the many committed Christians spare a thought, and say a prayer, for our missionaries who have left Ireland to preach the Good News in other lands.
And let us also remember the many thousands who have been forced to leave this land in recent years – may they, wherever they find themselves seeking a living – be missionaries in that place. May they experience the love of God – in New Zealand, Canada, Dubai… – and may they share that love of God every day of their lives.
Martin Kavanagh SMA