On Mission Sunday, 22nd October 2017, Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly SMA was invited to be the chief concelebrant for the RTE mass, broadcast live throughout Ireland and on the Worldwide Web.
Below we are delighted to publish the full text of Archbishop Kieran’s homily, delivered during the service:
A very good morning to our viewers at home, in hospital, nursing homes and care centres and all who join this broadcast via the World Wide Web. A very good morning to you as we come together for our Eucharistic celebration on this Mission Sunday 2017.
Mission Sunday is a unique day in the life of the church world-wide where every community gathered in prayer today, no matter how big or small, irrespective of its material resources – from the smallest outstation in the remotest mission territories to the finest cathedrals all celebrate the core identity of what it means to be called “Church”.
Mission is at the heart of our identity as a people of faith – we are a people who are sent out, sent to make Jesus Christ known in our world. On this day the universal nature of the church is particularly obvious as all celebrate Mission Sunday wherever we may be. All members of the Church are sent to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Each individual and community is invited to reflect on what it means to be a missionary. How are we to become the Missionary Disciples that Pope Francis asks us to become in his Encyclical “The Joy of the Gospel”?
I recall from my own time on mission in Africa the Christian communities – sometimes with meagre resources, joining fully in today’s celebration. On this day they recalled that they, too, are commissioned to work for the spread of the Gospel. They celebrate that they are missionaries.
In outstations in Liberia and Nigeria where I worked, just like all communities today, they re-dedicate themselves afresh to being the agents of mission and to making the person of Jesus Christ known in the world in which they live.
The true missionary disciples in our time are those who through their lives give constant and often silent but steadfast witness to the Gospel of Joy and Love. They may not engage in dramatic gestures or travel very far but through their lives of witness they fulfil the advice, often attributed to St. Francis of Assisi to his followers: “…Preach the Gospel and if necessary use words.” The lives we lead are the key to our being true missionary disciples. Through our lives we are invited to bear witness to the faith in the Risen Lord.
In Psalm 95, in today’s Liturgy of the Word we are invited by the Psalmist to Sing a New Song to the Lord. We are asked to sing a new song of Mission continually in our lives.
Pope Francis speaks in his message for today, saying that this is now our time to bear witness, this is now our moment to bring the Joy of the Gospel to our family, friends and neighbours.
We are all are called to be missionaries of the Joy of the Gospel. “To become missionaries of God’s mercy, channels through which God can water the earth, protect all creation and make justice and peace flourish” (Pope Francis)
Helping us to be Missionaries of the Gospel are the Pontifical Mission Societies. These are the official agencies of the Church who distribute the offerings and resources gathered today to the most in need parts of the Church. When I was teaching in the Seminary of Saints Peter and Paul in Ibadan, in Nigeria, I experienced first-hand how important the support that came from the Pontifical Mission Societies was for our seminary and, indeed, continues to be important for the training of priests, religious and catechists.
I take this opportunity to thank all who give so generously of their support through prayer and financial help to these Societies.
On this day it is appropriate that we remember in our thoughts and prayers the Christians who are suffering because of their faith, through different forms of persecution yet nonetheless they hold to their commitment to witnessing to the Gospel of love of Jesus Christ. I kindly ask you to remember them in your prayers.
May we continue to seek new ways to sing a New Missionary Song to the Lord,
In conclusion, I quote from The Joy of the Gospel of Pope Francis, let us invite Mary, the Mother of all Missionaries to assist us in becoming Missionary Disciples:
“Mary, Virgin and Mother
Helps us to bear radiant witness to communion,
Service, ardent and generous faith,
Justice and love of the poor,
That the Joy of the Gospel
May reach to the ends of the earth.”
Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly, SMA