"It is easy in the rush of daily life or in its tedium to lose the sense of wonder that is appropriate to this gift. It is even easier at the level of our societal relations to count some lives as less valuable than others, especially when caring for them costs us – financially, emotionally, or in terms of time, effort, and struggle." - Cardinal Joseph Bernardin.
The month of October is usually one to witness the activity of the Spirit within The Church. Traditionally, one Sunday of October is always designated as World Mission Sunday.
The Society for the Propagation of the Faith, now celebrating its 180th anniversary, reminds us that we are all committed – or should be committed – to the worldwide mission of continuing the work of Jesus and proclaiming the Good News to the poor: to open the eyes of the spiritually blind and to free the spiritually oppressed.
Today, in many parishes across the country and throughout the world, we Catholics are asked to remember those charismatic priests, religious and lay catechists who dedicate their lives to this work in foreign missions – and we are offered the opportunity to assist them in their work through our prayers and financial assistance, as they bring the Gospel to their people. "World Mission Sunday… is an important date in the life of the Church," said the Holy Father, " because it teaches how to give: as an offering made to God in the Eucharistic celebration, and for all the missions of the world."
This is important work – Mission Sunday does offer us an opportunity to help and to take part. But it can be an easy opportunity. It is much easier to offer extra prayers, or to put an extra donation into the special collection basket than it is to "get involved" and actually take part in the mission of Jesus. Special days, such as Mission Sunday, can lull us into thinking that we have "done" our part – and while we have helped, it is only a small part of what Christ is calling to do, and to become.
The mission of Jesus surrounds us. There are those who are spiritually blind and oppressed all around us: in our own families, in our neighborhoods, in the workplace, in our government and society and, yes, even in the pews next to us every Sunday.
The mission of Jesus surrounds us. Mission Sunday reminds us not only of the work of the foreign missions, but of The Mission – the Gospel Mission, and our participation in it. It is much more than a yearly donation and some extra prayers offered. It is a call to an activity much more significant. It is a call to follow in the footsteps of the Lord and of his first disciples. Take some time to renew your knowledge of the various and creative ways the first followers of Jesus met their deaths. Look at Archbishop Oscar Romero, or at the many other modern-day martyrs in places such as El Salvador, Bosnia or Algeria.
The Lord is not necessarily calling us to such drastic measures to preach the Gospel. But He is calling us to get our priorities straight; He is asking us to speak out and to do something real and concrete about injustice and human dignity; and He is challenging us to sacrifice our complacency and comfortable-ness for the sake of our fellow pilgrims, at home as well as abroad. He asks for a little more than just prayers and monetary gifts...
If it seems too daunting a task, let us always remember the words of Isaiah: "I have called you by your name... It is I who arm you, so that toward the rising and the setting of the sun people may know that there is none besides me..."
If we feel overwhelmed by our call to discipleship, let us continue to gather around the Table of the Lord, always to taste and see His Goodness - always to taste and see His Love - always to taste and see the power of the Risen Lord within our hearts and lives... so that through Him and with Him and in Him, we may sing a new song to the Lord, and "tell his glory among the nations; among all peoples, his wondrous deeds."
The mission of Jesus surrounds us.