This Sunday, we recall with gratitude our solidarity with missionaries
This weekend Catholics around the world celebrate Mission Sunday. We celebrate the gift of our faith and recommit ourselves to sharing our precious gift with others. Our faith is not a concept, a doctrine, or a program. As St. John Paul II so often said: "It is before all a person with the face and name of Jesus of Nazareth, the image of the invisible God."
Our faith is the gift of Jesus who said, "I am the life" (Jn 14:6), who alone is able to satisfy the human heart's insatiable yearning for life.
Pope Francis speaks so often of the "wonderful experience of meeting Jesus," and of "the joy of faith." The joy of living in with Jesus and experiencing His love is, however, a joy that is meant to be shared, proclaimed, and given witness to. Jesus would not have us keep Him to ourselves. Before ascending into heaven, He gave the command: "Go and make disciples of all nations." (Mt 28:19) The more we share our love of Jesus with others, the deeper our relationship with Jesus becomes.
When Pope Francis spoke to the youth in Brazil at World Youth Day in 2013, he asked the question and then answered it: "Where does Jesus send us? There are no borders, no limits: He sends us to everyone. The Gospel is for everyone, not just for some. It is not only for those who seem closer to us, more receptive, more welcoming. It is for everyone..."
Pope Francis continued: "Do not be afraid to go and to bring Christ into every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent. The Lord seeks all, He wants everyone to feel the warmth of His mercy and His love."
Two-thirds of the world's people do not know Jesus Christ. There are priests, consecrated religious, and lay people in some 1,000 mission dioceses devoting all their spiritual and physical energies witnessing to the love of Jesus and His Gospel of hope. On Mission Sunday, we recall with gratitude our solidarity with our missionaries throughout the world.
St. Therese, the Little Flower, is co-patron of the missions with St. Francis Xavier. She reminds me of how we might stand in solidarity with missionaries through our prayers and sacrifices. St. Therese, a cloistered Carmelite nun, wanted to be a missionary herself, specifically to go to Saigon where her community had a mission. Her health did not permit it. She dedicated her life of prayer, of contemplation, and the acceptance of the cross in her life for missionaries. She dedicated the "little things" in her life for the success of missionaries in spreading the love of Jesus with others. She summed up her efforts: "Lord, I have found my vocation; in the heart of the Church, my Mother, I will be love; and in that I will be everything."
Through Baptism, every one of us has been called to be a missionary, sharing the love of Christ with others. Most of us are not called to follow the steps of St. Francis Xavier, who went to the Far East to spread Jesus and His Gospel of hope, reconciliation, peace, and life. We can, however, try to follow the "little way" of St. Therese, offering our prayers and daily crosses in behalf of missionaries.
Besides our spiritual support, Mission Sunday offers us the opportunity to stand in concrete solidarity with our missionaries through material aid. Please be generous in the Mission Sunday collection and thereby assist the pressing needs for the building of churches and chapels, the formation of missionary priests, religious, and laity, and the publication in local languages of religious texts for education in the faith.
May God bless your generosity!