[29th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B, October 18, 2015 / Isa 53:10-11 / Ps 33:4-5, 18-19, 20+22 / Heb 4:14-16 / Mark 10:35-45]
ONE Mission Sunday I remember meeting a Christian willing to give her life for others in Sydney in 1998. It made a profound impression on me and started me on my quest for my vocation. I went to my local parish and had been out running in a 10 kilometer run in the morning. I was feeling so healthy and strong.
When I sat down in the Mass, a little old lady came and sat beside me. “Poor old dear,” I thought, “I am glad I am still young and strong.” The priest began the Mass and told us that this day was Mission Sunday. I did not know what it was. He said “Today we will listen to a missionary from Africa, who has been through a war, then put in prison.” “Wow awesome!“ I thought and imagined the Arnold Schwarzenegger type of missionary who would be going to speak in the homily.
When the homily arrived the little old lady tapped me on the shoulder. I assumed she wanted to go to the bathroom. What a surprise I got when instead of heading towards the bathroom she started walking towards the altar. So this was the missionary who had been in Africa. She started to speak and her face was lit up by the love of Christ. She was sharing about the children in Africa and I must say I never saw a human being so in love with humanity.
Her whole face shone and lit up the darkness of my heart — “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has never put it out” (John 1:5). She then told us how she was put in prison and given death threats. She had so much power. My muscles meant nothing compared to the power of love! She was so courageous. She said that she had a rifle placed at her head and was threatened with death. She replied, “The only way you will get me to leave this country is in a body bag”
I wanted to love like that. I wanted to know the Christ she knew. The Christ I knew was not the same one. I came to church and I would sit at the back and would leave as soon as the Mass finished. She was in a different league…I was playing football in the back garden and she was in the Premier League! Who is this Christ that drives her in the mission? It is the Christian one, the one we receive in every Eucharist! How come I am not so fired up as her, how come I often feel lethargic and lacking in love when there is a whole world to love! I WANT TO KNOW YOU JESUS AND YOUR LOVE!
What is the secret of mission? What drives one in the mission? LOVE! “Do you love me?” asked Jesus, “then feed my sheep.”
Look at the patrons of the mission. Who are they? St Thérèse of Lisieux. She did not go to all nations, like the other patron St Francis Xavier. He went to so many lands, but St Thérèse never left her convent! How come she is patron of mission? What did she do? She had a great love for Christ. One day she was praying with Songs 1:4 – “Draw me and we will run.” How come? Draw me. Who is the we? All the other souls… In Taiwan our Verbum Dei sisters told us about the faith there. It is a country with very few Christians. But who do many of them love? St Thérèse of Lisieux! She never went there but the love she has is global and universal!
Of course it does not remain that we all stay at home. She was faithful to her call and so must we be. To bring the light of Christ as a community to the world: “You are the light of the world!” What sometimes lacks in our Christian following? Why is it not exciting? Mission! We are all missionaries! The whole Church is missionary, by her very nature! We are all missionaries and we share in the mission of Christ. The Church exists by mission as fire exists by burning! What makes fire, fire, is in the burning. What makes Church the Church is mission.
This is the mission of the Church: to shout out to the world the life and love of Christ. What a wonderful mission! Let us give thanks for the gift and task of mission. Each of us as Christians share in this mission of the Church. Let us be faithful to what God asks us… Amen.