Today is World Mission Sunday. It is called that because it is celebrated throughout the world, and because the mission of the Church is to the whole world: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the good news to all creation.” (Mark 16:15) This year’s theme is, “Together with Young People, Let us bring the Gospel to All.” This theme is inspired by the World Synod of Bishops currently being held in the Vatican (October 3-28) on the theme, “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.” The papal message for this year’s World Mission Sunday was issued by Pope Francis on May 20. He begins his reflection saying:
Dear young people, I would like to reflect with you on the mission that we have received from Christ. In speaking to you, I also address all Christians who live out in the Church the adventure of their life as children of God. What leads me to speak to everyone through this conversation with you is the certainty that the Christian faith remains ever young when it is open to the mission that Christ entrusts to us.
He goes on to say:
You too, young friends, by your baptism have become living members of the Church; together we have received the mission to bring the Gospel to everyone. You are at the threshold of life. To grow in the grace of the faith bestowed on us by the Church’s sacraments plunges us into that great stream of witnesses who, generation after generation, enable the wisdom and experience of older persons to become testimony and encouragement for those looking to the future. And the freshness and enthusiasm of the young makes them a source of support and hope for those nearing the end of their journey. In this blend of different stages in life, the mission of the Church bridges the generations; our faith in God and our love of neighbor are a source of profound unity. This transmission of the faith, the heart of the Church’s mission, comes about by the infectiousness of love, where joy and enthusiasm become the expression of a newfound meaning and fulfilment in life.
The apostles in today’s Gospel are instructed that, like Jesus, they are not to be served, but to serve, even to the point of sacrificing their lives. In this regard Pope Francis says:
Many men and women, and many young people, have generously sacrificed themselves, even at times to martyrdom, out of love for the Gospel and service to their brothers and sisters. From the cross of Jesus we learn the divine logic of self-sacrifice (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:17-25) as a proclamation of the Gospel for the life of the world (cf. John 3:16). To be set afire by the love of Christ is to be consumed by that fire, to grow in understanding by its light and to be warmed by its love (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:14).
Although not all of us can be missionaries, all of us can be missionary, i.e., mission-minded, through our prayers and financial support of missionaries. Please use the envelopes found in your envelope packets or in the pews to make a gift in support of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. In concluding his message, Pope Francis states:
The Pontifical Mission Societies were born of young hearts as a means of supporting the preaching of the Gospel to every nation and thus contributing to the human and cultural growth of all those who thirst for knowledge of the truth. The prayers and the material aid generously given and distributed through the Pontifical Mission Societies enable the Holy See to ensure that those who are helped in their personal needs can in turn bear witness to the Gospel in the circumstances of their daily lives. No one is so poor as to be unable to give what they have, but first and foremost what they are.
This weekend I am away attending the annual meeting of the North Central Lieutenancy of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. Jerry and Mary Kuehl of St. Charles Parish are currently the leaders of this group in our diocese. Our purpose is to support the Christians and Christian shrines in the Holy Land, both financially and spiritually. Besides celebrating the promotion of members and the investiture of new members, we will hear reports and updates on the situation of Christians in the Holy Land and the projects and institutions supported by the Order’s contributions.
Continue to pray the rosary this week for the needs of the victims of recent natural disasters near and far. Pray for good weather for the fall harvest and, as always, pray for peace.
May God bless his people with peace.