October 14, 2018

World Mission Sunday, October 21, 2018

One-page summary of WORLD MISSION SUNDAY HOMILY (Oct 21)

Introduction: Over one billion Catholics all over the world observe today as World Mission Sunday. This annual observance was instituted 92 years ago in 1926 by a Papal decree issued by Pope Pius XI. Every year since then, the universal Church has dedicated the month of October to reflection on and prayer for the missions. On World Mission Sunday, Catholics gather to celebrate the Eucharist and to contribute to a collection for the work of evangelization around the world. This annual celebration gives us a chance to reflect on the importance of mission work for the life of the Church. It reminds us that we are one with the Church around the world and that we are all committed to carrying on the mission of Christ, however different our situations may be

The Holy Fathers’ Mission Sunday messages: Pope Benedict XVI, in his World Mission Sunday messages stressed the importance of Christian charity in action as the key note of evangelization. He encouraged churches with a shortage of priests to get them from countries with many priests.   In the Pauline Year, he encouraged everyone “to take renewed awareness of the urgent need to proclaim the Gospel”. He reminded us that the “the goal of the Church’s mission was to illumine all peoples with the light of the Gospel” and exhorted all Christians “to redouble their commitment to participate in the missionary activity that is an essential component of the life of the Church.” Pope Francis, in his first World Mission Sunday message, 2013, challenged us to proclaim courageously and in every situation the Gospel of Christ, a message of hope, reconciliation, and communion. In his next Mission Sunday message, the Pope challenged the Church to become a welcoming home, a mother for all peoples and the source of rebirth for our world through the intercession of Mary, the model of humble and joyful evangelization. Now in 2018, Pope Francis urges young people to join the Church in bringing the Gospel to all. The missionary Church: The Church, according to Vatican Council II, is “missionary” in her very nature because her founder, Jesus Christ, was the first missionary.   God the Father sent God the Son into the world with a message of God’s love and salvation.    Thus, the evangelizing mission of the Church is essentially the announcement of God’s love, mercy, forgiveness, and salvation as these are revealed to mankind through the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord.

How should we evangelize? Here are three ways by exemplary and transparent Christian life, by prayer, and by financial support.  The most powerful means of preaching Christ is by living a truly Christian life — a life filled with love, mercy, kindness, compassion and a spirit of forgiveness and service. Prayer is the second means of missionary work.  Jesus said: “Without Me you can do nothing.”  Therefore, prayer is necessary for anyone who wishes to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. All missionary efforts also require financial support because the love of God can often be explained to the poor only by providing them with food, medicine and means of livelihood.  Hence, on this Mission Sunday, let us learn to appreciate our missionary obligation and support the Church’s missionary activities by leading transparent Christian lives, by fervent prayers, and by generous donations.

OCT 21: WORLD MISSION SUNDAY – 2018

Homily starter anecdote: # 1: “I have no other plan.” S.D. Gordon has a beautiful story about the Ascension of Jesus into Heaven. When the grand welcome ceremony was over, the Archangel Gabriel approached Jesus to resolve his doubts. He said, “I know that only very few in Palestine are aware of the great work of human salvation you have accomplished through your suffering, death and resurrection. But the whole world should know and appreciate it and become your disciples, acknowledging you as their Lord and Savior. What is your plan of action?”  Jesus answered, “I have told all my Apostles to tell other people about me and preach my message through their lives. That’s all.” “Suppose they don’t do that,” Gabriel responded. “What’s your Plan B?” Jesus replied, “I have no other plan; I am counting on them.” On this World Mission Sunday, the Church reminds us that Jesus is counting on each one of us to make him known loved and accepted by others around us.

# 2: “We wanted to be like them” A striking story tells about one remote area in western Sudan. Expatriate missionaries, especially priests, Brothers and Sisters, had labored there for many years with few visible results. Then expatriate lay missionaries — married and single — came to that area and soon many Sudanese people become Catholics. A Sudanese elder explained: “When we saw the priests and Sisters living separately and alone we didn’t want to be like them. But when we saw Catholic families — men, women and children — living happily together, we wanted to be like them.” In our family-oriented African society, married missionary couples with children have a powerful and unique witness and credibility. (Fr. Joseph G. Healey, M.M., a Maryknoll missionary)

# 3:  “God Is Like a Large Baobab Tree” One day my pickup truck broke down on the road from Maswa to Bariadi in western Tanzania. After I had waited for a half hour a big Coca-Cola truck came by and the driver named Musa kindly towed my vehicle to the next town — a common occurrence of friendship and mutual help on our poor dirt roads. Part of the time I sat in his big cab and we talked about, of all things, religion. Musa was a Muslim who belonged to the Nyamwezi Ethnic Group from Tabora. In commenting on the tensions between Christians and Muslims in Tanzania he told me: “There is only one God. God is like one large tree with different branches that represent the different religions of Islam, Christianity, African Religion and so forth. These branches are part of the same family of God so we should work together.” Simply put, Musa taught me an African metaphor of world religions and interreligious dialogue. (Fr. Healey).

Introduction: Over one billion Catholics all over the world observe today as the 92nd  World Mission Sunday. This annual observance was instituted 92 years ago in 1926 by a Papal decree issued by Pope Pius XI. Every year since then, the universal Church has dedicated the month of October to reflection on and prayer for the missions. On World Mission Sunday, Catholics gather to celebrate the Eucharist and to contribute to a collection for the work of evangelization around the world. This annual celebration gives us a chance to reflect on the importance of mission work for the life of the Church. It reminds us that we are one with the Church around the world and that we are all committed to carrying on the mission of Christ, however different our situations may be. The greatest missionary challenge that we face at home is a secular and consumerist culture in which God is not important, moral values are relative and institutional religions are deemed unnecessary.

The Holy Fathers’ Mission Sunday messages: It is because of the modern challenges to evangelization that, in his World Mission Sunday Message 2003, Pope St. John Paul II called on the Church to become “more contemplative, holy, and missionary-oriented, grounding its work on fervent prayer.” Pope Benedict XVI, in his 2006 message, stressed the importance of Christian charity in action as the keynote of evangelization.   “All the Churches for all the World” was the Pope’s theme for World Mission Sunday, 2007. Pope Benedict encouraged the sending of missionaries from Church communities which have a large number of vocations to serve those communities of the West which experience a shortage of vocations.  In 2008, the Pauline Year, the Pope encouraged everyone “to take renewed awareness of the urgent need to proclaim the Gospel,” following the example and imbibing the missionary zeal of St. Paul, the greatest Apostolic missionary of all times.  In 2009, the Pope clarified that the “the goal of the Church’s mission is to illumine all peoples with the light of the Gospel as they journey through history towards God.” He asked all Christians to redouble their commitment to participate in the missionary activity that is an essential component of the life of the Church. Pope Francis, in 2013, in his first World Mission Sunday message, challenged us to proclaim courageously and in every situation the Gospel of Christ, a message of hope, reconciliation, and communion, a proclamation of God’s closeness, His mercy, and His salvation, and a proclamation that the power of God’s love is able to overcome the darkness of evil and guide us on the path of goodness. In the light of the conclusion of the Year of Faith (announced by Pope Benedict XVI October 11, 2012-November 24, 2013), Pope Francis, who replaced Benedict on Benedict’s retirement, offered his thoughts about Faith: the necessity of sharing it, some roadblocks missionary efforts can encounter, and the importance of generously responding to the missionary call of the Holy Spirit. In his next Mission Sunday message, Pope Francis challenged the Church to become a welcoming home, a mother for all peoples and the source of rebirth for our world through the intercession of Mary, the model of humble and joyful evangelization.  This year, 2018, Pope Francis urges young people to join the Church in bringing the Gospel to all.

The missionary Church: The Church, according to Vatican Council II, is “missionary” in her very nature because her founder, Jesus Christ, was the first missionary.   God the Father sent God the Son into the world with a message.   This message, called the Gospel or the “Good News,” is explicitly stated in John 3:16: “For God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die, but have eternal life.”  John further clarifies Jesus’ message in his epistle: “God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.”(I Jn 4: 9).  St. Paul writes to Timothy about the Church’s mission: “God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (I Tim. 2:4). Thus, the evangelizing mission of the Church is essentially the announcement of God’s love, mercy, forgiveness, and salvation as these are revealed to mankind through the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord. The Gospels show us how Jesus demonstrated this all-embracing and unconditional love of God by his life, suffering, death, and Resurrection.

Why should we preach? Jesus, the first missionary, made a permanent arrangement for inviting all men throughout the ages to share God’s love and salvation:  “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you.” (Mt 28:19).  This is why the Council Fathers of the Second Vatican Council declared that the Church of Christ “is missionary in its origin and nature.”  Hence, it follows that the mission of the Church is the mission of every member of the Church, and is not reserved for the priests, the religious, and the active missionaries alone.    Thus, every Christian is a missionary with a message to share — the message of God’s love, liberation, and eternal salvation.

How are we to accomplish this goal?   The most powerful means of fulfilling this goal is by living a truly   Christian life — a life filled with love, mercy, kindness, compassion and a forgiving spirit.   Mr. Gandhi used to say:   “My life is my message.”  He often challenged the Christian missionaries to observe the “apostolate of the rose.”   A rose doesn’t preach. It simply radiates its fragrance and attracts everyone to it by its irresistible beauty.   Hence, the most important thing is not the Gospel we preach, but the life we live.  This is how the early Christians evangelized.   Their Gentile neighbors used to say:  “See how these Christians love one another.”   The Christ they recognized and accepted was the Christ who lived in each Christian.

Prayer is the second means of missionary work.  Jesus said: “Without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Therefore, prayer is necessary for anyone who wishes to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.   In his message for World Mission Sunday, 2004, Pope St. John Paul II stressed the fact that the Holy Spirit would help us to become witnesses of Christ only in an atmosphere of prayer.  Since missionaries are weak human beings and since witnessing to Christ through life is not easy, we need to support them by our prayers. In his message for 2007, Pope Benedict reminds us, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few”, the Lord said; “pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest”(Lk 10: 2).

All missionary efforts also require financial support because the love of God can often be explained to the poor only by providing them with food and means of livelihood.  The sick can experience the healing power of Jesus only through the dedicated service of doctors, nurses, and health care workers.   Hospitals and nursing homes require funding.  The use of expensive modern media of communication is often necessary to bring Christ’s message of love and liberation more effectively to non-Christians in the modern world.

Hence, on this Mission Sunday, let us learn to appreciate our missionary obligation and support the Church’s missionary activities by leading transparent Christian lives, by fervent prayers, and by generous donations. Pope Benedict XVI concluded his 2006 Mission Sunday message thus: “May the Virgin Mary, who collaborated actively in the beginning of the Church’s mission with her presence beneath the Cross and her prayers in the Upper Room, sustain their action and help believers in Christ to be ever more capable of true love, so that they become sources of living water in a spiritually thirsting world.”

JOKE OF THE DAY

# 1:  97% of the world has heard of Coca-Cola
72% of the world has seen a can of Coca-Cola
51% of the world has tasted a can of Coca-Cola
Coke has only been around 118 years (2018).
If God had given the task of world evangelization to the Coke company it would probably be done by now.

# 2:  Did Jesus Christ Ever Kill a Lion? A story is told about a missionary who went to a remote area in Northern Tanzania to proclaim the Gospel among the Maasai tribes who were warriors.  One day he was explaining to a group of adults the saving activity of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He told how Jesus is the Savior and Redeemer of all humankind. When he finished, a Maasai elder slowly stood up and said to the missionary: “You have spoken well, but I want to learn more about this great person Jesus Christ. Now I have three questions about Jesus. First, did he ever kill a lion? Second, how many cows did he have? Third, how many wives and children did he have?”

# 3: Rescue mission to Egypt: Nine-year-old Joey was asked by his mother what he had learned in Sunday school. “Well, Mom,” he reported, “our teacher told us how God sent Moses behind enemy lines on a rescue mission to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. When he got to the Red Sea, he ordered his engineers to build a pontoon bridge, and all the people walked across safely. He used his walkie-talkie to radio headquarters to call in an air strike. They sent in bombers to blow up the bridge and all the Israelites were saved.

“Now, Joey, is that REALLY what your teacher taught you?” his mother asked.

“Well, no, Mom,” Joey admitted, “but if I told it the way the teacher did, you’d never believe it!”

#3: Two Mormon missionaries are walking down the street one sunny morning.  Coming from the opposite direction is an over-zealous  Catholic priest.  As they meet the priest says, “Good morning, Sons of the Devil.”  The Mormon missionaries reply, “Good morning Father.”

# 4:  Mark Twain used to tell a joke, saying he put a dog and a cat in a cage together as an experiment, to see if they could get along. They did. So he put in a bird, pig and goat. They, too, got along fine after a few adjustments. Then he put in a Baptist, a Presbyterian, and a Catholic, and hell broke loose.

Additional anecdotes: 1) “You’re not a white man; you’re Jesus.”  A touching story is told of a British missionary priest who lived   in a remote part of Tanzania.  He lived alone, a single white man among his African flock, speaking their language.  One day a British government official arrived on a tour of the area. The Tanzanian children ran out to welcome the visitor. They entertained the official by clapping, singing and dancing.  After the official left, the children excitedly told the missionary priest, “We saw a white man! We saw a white man!”   Some of the children said that the visitor was the first foreigner they had ever seen. The priest was amazed and exclaimed, “But I’m a white man. I’m a foreigner. But I’ve been living here with you all these years.”   One of the children said, “You’re not a white man; you’re Jesus, you are our Father.”  Mission Sunday reminds us that transparent Christian life, as lived by this missionary, radiating the real presence of Jesus within, is the mission of every Christian. (Joseph G. Healey, M.M).

2)  “Athanasius Evangelized Me With a Cup of Tea” : One day Bishop Christopher Mwoleka came to our house in Nyabihanga Village in Rulenge, Tanzania on an unexpected visit. My good friend Athanasius and I hurriedly prepared tea for the villagers who came to greet the bishop. We started with two full thermoses, but then several other visitors came and soon we had finished all the tea. I wondered what I would do if another person came. Just then one of our neighbors arrived to say hello. As I started to apologize for not having any more tea, Athanasius spontaneously picked up his own cup of tea and politely handed it to the visitor. It was a simple gesture of sharing, but for me a profound act of love and beauty. By his example Athanasius had evangelized me. (Joseph G. Healey, M.M).

3) Americans give $700 million per year to mission agencies. However, they pay as much for pet food every 52 days. A person must overeat by at least $1.50 worth of food per month to maintain one excess pound of flesh. Yet $1.50 per month is more than what 90 percent of all Christians in America give to missions. If the average missions’ supporter is only five pounds overweight, it means he spends (to his own hurt) at least five times as much as he gives for missions. If he were to choose simple food (as well as not overeat), he could give ten times as much as he does to missions and not modify his standard of living in any other way!  [Ralph Winter of the William Carey Library, 1705 North Sierra Bonita Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91104, in Leadership, IV,4,p. 64. ]

4) Mary Moffatt Livingstone:  Sometimes marriage to a great leader comes with a special price for his wife. Such was the case for Mary Moffatt Livingstone, wife of Dr. David Livingstone, perhaps the most celebrated missionary in the Western world. Mary was born in Africa; she was the daughter of Robert Moffatt, the missionary who inspired Livingstone to go to Africa. The Livingstones were married in Africa in 1845, but the years that followed were difficult for Mary. Finally, she and their six children returned to England so she could recuperate as Livingstone plunged deeper into the African interior. Unfortunately, even in England Mary lived in near poverty. The hardships and long separations took their toll on Mrs. Livingstone, who died when she was just forty-two.  [Today in the Word, MBI, January, 1990, p. 12.]

#5: Religion is a good thing, as long as it’s in small doses. A family lived off the alley behind my first church. There were three floors to their row house, each floor inhabited by a different generation. The grandparents, who were members of the church, lived on the ground floor. Next floor up was their son and daughter-in-law, and the grandchildren’s bedrooms were at the top. One day, the grandfather beckoned me to the back fence. “I’m worried about my grandson,” he said. “What’s the problem?” I asked. He said, “When he gets up in the morning, he reads the Bible before he does anything else. Every time he sits at the kitchen table, he insists on saying grace. Now he’s talking about joining a prayer group with his girlfriend.” Walter,” I said, “what’s the problem?” “Don’t get me wrong, Reverend,” he said. “Religion is a good thing, as long as it’s in small doses. I’m worried my grandson is becoming an extremist.” I admit it was hard to sympathize with my neighbor. So far, no member of my family has been lost to such radical behavior. Neither has a child of mine wandered off to the Temple for three days. But it’s important to remember that religious commitments can divide a family. [William G. Carter, Praying for a Whole New World, CSS Publishing Company. L/18

 “Scriptural Homilies” Cycle B (No. 56) by Fr. Tony: akadavil@gmail.com

Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604.