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, “We cannot but speak about what we have seen and heard,” from Acts 4:20. In his message for this year, Pope Francis says:
The theme of this year’s World Mission Day…is a summons to each of us to “own” and to bring to others what we bear in our hearts. This mission has always been the hallmark of the Church, for “she exists to evangelize” (SAINT PAUL VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, 14). Our life of faith grows weak, loses its prophetic power and its ability to awaken amazement and gratitude when we become isolated and withdraw into little groups. By its very nature, the life of faith calls for a growing openness to embracing everyone, everywhere.
Later he says:
On World Mission Day…we recall with gratitude all those men and women who by their testimony of life help us to renew our baptismal commitment to be generous and joyful apostles of the Gospel. Let us remember especially all those who resolutely set out, leaving home and family behind, to bring the Gospel to all those places and people athirst for its saving message.
In last Sunday’s Second Reading we began a section from the Letter to the Hebrews which speaks about the high priesthood of Jesus Christ. This letter is addressed to Jewish converts to Christianity. The inspired author shows how the once-and-for-all sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross is more excellent than the sacrifices of the Old Covenant, which it both fulfills and brings to an end. Jesus was identified both as high priest and Son of God, “who has passed through the heavens.” Nevertheless he is not “unable to sympathize with our weaknesses” because he “has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin.” In other words, he is true God and true man.
In the Old Covenant there was a succession of high priests, descended from Aaron, the first high priest. Being mortal men, they had to be replaced. They also were tainted by sin and offered sacrifices for themselves as well as for the people. In today’s Second Reading we are told that Jesus, however, is “a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” Jesus’ priesthood is not inherited, but is conferred by God the Father. As God the Son, Jesus holds this dignity eternally. Melchizedek appears in Genesis 14:18-20, long before Aaron existed. No paternal ancestry is given and no mention of how long he lived. He is identified as “king of Salem” and “priest of God Most High,” who brings out bread and wine and blesses Abraham. The only other place where he is mentioned in the Bible is in Psalm 110, quoted in today’s Second Reading, where he is seen to be a prefiguration of Jesus Christ as King and Priest, who has no paternal ancestry and lives forever. Therefore Jesus is the Eternal High Priest, “a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” This argument will continue through the final Sundays of the liturgical year leading up to the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, on November 21.
Continue to pray the rosary this week for the legal protection of the right to life, for vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and for those preparing for marriage. Pray for good weather for the fall
harvest and for the safety of all working to bring it in; and, as always, pray for peace.
May God bless his people with peace.