Today is Mission Sunday
At the end of every Mass we hear the words or ones similar, ‘Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life’. The very word Mass as many of you will know comes from the Latin word missa from which we get the word mission. We are invited to go out to live and share what we have heard and seen in the Mass we have celebrated together.
The song I encourage you to listen to today is called, ‘Go Out, Go Now’ from ‘Making Music To Your Name’.
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Every Man and Woman is a Mission.
Today’s Gospel from Mark 10:35-45 recalls for us the words of Jesus that the ‘Son of Man himself did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’. As Christ’s followers that is our calling too. We break bread together just as Christ was broken for us on the cross and we receive him into our hearts. We are encouraged to take the living Word we have heard and the living presence of Christ which we have received together into our everyday lives. Now we are to be that Word and Sacrament for the people we share our lives with and encounter at home, work, in the supermarket, on the bus and on the street. We take the body of Christ from the Body of Christ to the Body of Christ.
Every man and woman is a mission; that is the reason for our life on this earth, Pope Francis says (World Mission Day Message 2018).
When we attend to a sick husband, wife, confrere or friend who may be losing their memory and we are struggling to be present to them we are attending to the broken body of Christ in them and in us because we realise our own fragility and lack of patience. Our perseverance despite the struggle is living out our mission.
When we take time to listen and share with our family members or work colleagues rather than being preoccupied constantly with our own concerns we are fulfilling our mission.
When we share what our faith means to us in a genuine way with someone searching for meaning in their lives we are fulfilling our mission.
In many ways our mission is synonymous with our vocation in life. To be the best husband or wife, the best friend, the best priest or religious, the best teacher, the best carer, the best listener. I hope this doesn’t sound unrealistic. I am all too aware of my limitations. Pope Francis talking to young people this Mission Sunday has this to say… ‘for a young man or woman who wants to follow Christ, what is most essential is to seek, to discover and to persevere in his or her vocation’.
Mission Sunday is traditionally focussed on supporting overseas Missions. This work still needs our financial and material support. We admire and are inspired by those who volunteer for overseas assignments in challenging places. I remember as a child raising money and collecting tea coupons for the missions. It certainly helped me to have an awareness of those less fortunate than I was. We have a prayer in the Society of Mary at the end of our evening prayers where we pray to Mary, Queen of Apostles responding, pray for our missionaries. Our first assignment as a congregation in 1836 was to Western Oceania including this country as missionaries and we had many missionaries working in the Pacific and Latin America at one time. We remembered and prayed for them in this way. However, at Marist Seminary where I work, we have changed the response to the prayer to, ‘pray that we be missionary’ reflecting that we are all on mission. There are so many examples of people fulfilling this mission in our country including wonderful people in our Church.
Jesus commissioned his disciples to ‘Go out to all the world and proclaim the Good News’ (Mk 16:15). New Zealand in relation to the Holy Land is certainly on the edge of that world and we can be grateful to those early missionaries who proclaimed the faith on these far-flung shores. However, in this ever-shrinking world given modern means of communication, Pope Francis comments in his message that ‘The most desolate periphery of all is where mankind, in need of Christ, remains indifferent to the faith or shows hatred for the fullness of life in God. All material and spiritual poverty, every form of discrimination against our brothers and sisters, is always a consequence of the rejection of God and his love.’
There is much work to be done but each of us responding to our own personal mission is enabling signs of that fullness of life to radiate. I am grateful to the many people who radiate that presence to me.
Listen to track 10 - "Go Out, Go Now" from the 'Making Music To Your Name'. The full track is available to listen to for this coming week.