[29th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A, Oct 19, 2014, Isa 45:1, 4-6 /Ps 96:1+3, 4-5, 7-8, 9-10 / 1 Thess 1:1-5b / Matt 22:15-21]
IN the Gospel today Jesus is challenged by the Pharisees. They ask him if it is lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not? If he says yes, then he could incur the wrath of the Jews who hated having to pay the tax to the occupying Romans. If Jesus said no then he would be going against the Romans. Jesus takes a coin and gives his knockout answer “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and give to God what belongs to God!” Wow, great answer, Jesus, well done! I would like to interpret this line with reference to the mission entrusted to the whole Church and to every individual Christian from baptism, seeing as today is Mission Sunday.
What is mission for you? Something they do in a far off country I hear you say. If you go to the far off countries and ask them the same question they too respond, “Something they do in a far off country!” So what is mission? The first thing to say is that mission is not simply something the Church does. Mission is not merely an activity but is part of her identity – “The Church is missionary by her very nature” (Ad Gentes No. 2). The Church is missionary because her founder is missionary. God so loved the world that he sent his only Son. Mission is about love and it is about sending. Jesus sent his disciples 2000 years ago and through the Holy Spirit sends each and every Christian today. The mission is not finished. Pope John Paul II said that the mission is not over yet. After 2 millennia, the mission of the Church is only just beginning! There is work to be done! Are you ready?
The mission is about love and sending. Love because Jesus asked “Do you love me? Feed my sheep.” And love is about being sent because love desires to be shared. Where there is love there is mission. Where there is love there is sharing. Where there is love there is mission.
Every Christian has a mission. I came to Church for years and I didn’t know this. When I was 29 I experienced the love of Jesus so strongly that I had to share it. Since then Jesus has kept me busy sharing his love in many lands such as England, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Philippines, Japan, Australia. He said “Go to all nations!” The mission is for everyone not just for missionaries. The truth is we are all missionaries. The difference is we have different missions. What is your mission?
The first mission territory is our home. A man asked Mother Teresa what was his mission. He wanted to build a better world, to go and work for peace. She said to him, “If you want to work for world peace go home and love your family.” A father has a mission to love his wife and bring up a family. Hearing my father say sorry to my mum when he made a mistake taught my brothers and me the importance of recognizing our mistakes and to say sorry. What peace and harmony forgiveness bring to a family! And some of the best sermons I ever heard were preached by my mum without words. When she came with a plate of biscuits to the playground and gave one not just to my friends but to all the children she was giving a homily with her life, without words, on generosity. St Charles Borromeo wrote, “Make sure that your life and conduct are sermons in themselves.”
We as Christians, are called to give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and God what belongs to God. We are called to be honest in our work, to give money and wealth their due place but not to idolize them. And the same with our time, which in our world of today is so precious: to give to Caesar what is necessary but to give to God some of our time too. How much time do we give to God?
Let us ask for the grace to embrace the mission entrusted to us and to enjoy it. And today a special prayer for all the parents who work hard to bring up a family. Don’t be afraid to be holy! The world needs Saints especially married ones! If this seems a distant dream perhaps an example can strengthen our faith and encourage us. On October 19th 2008, in Lisieux, France a married couple were beatified, the first step towards becoming Saints – Louis and Marie Zelie, the parents of St Thérèse of Lisieux. So come on mums and dads, don’t be afraid to be holy! And to each one of us: we can ask Jesus to experience his love more strongly and that this love may send us, moving us out of our comfort zone at times to share to others, with our life and with our words. Happy Mission!