This Sunday we celebrate Mission Sunday It is very appropriate that we celebrate Mission Sunday this the first Sunday on the Year of Faith. Over the years many people have taken up the call of the Lord to be workers in his vineyard and set out all over the world to open the door of faith in the far corners of the world. In our own parish here there have been so many people who have joined the various missionary congregations. The orders that come to mind are the Columban Fathers, Holy Ghost Fathers, St. Patricks Kilteegan. There are so many other missionary congregations throughout the world and we pay tribute to all of them on this day
The idea of going as a missionary to people who might have a religious faith is not too fashionable in our world of today. But that’s what Saint Augustine did, that’s what Saint Patrick did for us here in Ireland and the reason we are here today is that ultimately someone took the trouble to bring the Gospel with all its richness to us. The challenge for us is to afford the same opportunity to others.
To take up the Lord’s command to make disciples of all the nations and bring the truth of the Gospel to the far ends of the earth.
Blessed Pope John Paul II said ‘The Church proposes; she imposes nothing. It respects individuals and cultures, and she honours the sanctuary of conscience’ (Redemptoris Missio 39). Faith in God is first and foremost a mystery and a gift. We can witness to the Gospel through charitable works, and that is mostly what missionaries do. ‘Faith without witness bears no fruit, while charity without faith would be a sentiment constantly at the mercy of doubt. Faith and charity require each other’ (Benedict XVI, Porta Fidei). Missionaries provide education and healthcare, run hospitals and provide aid. These good works are motivated solely by their faith in God. Faith truly changes everything and the way we look at our world.
In today Gospel reading James and John ask that when Jesus enters his glory he would grant them positions of honour and power. Jesus responds that they do not understand the cost of what they are asking. When the ten hear about the ambitious request, they become indignant. Jesus then summons the twelve and reveals the meaning of the divine mission for the kingdom that he has come to fulfil. Those who are rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them and make their authority felt. Among his disciples, however, whoever wishes to be great will become a servant, and whoever wishes to be first will be the slave of all. Then follows perhaps the most radical and most revealing saying of Jesus about himself and about discipleship in the entire gospel: “For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Today we celebrate the missionary work of the church in our world and we thank God for all those missionaries men and women religious and Lay who took up the Lord’s command to make disciples of all the nations and bring the truth of the Gospel to one and all in past generations. We also pray that many more will take up the vocation to be missionaries bringing the gospel to those who have never heard it opening the door of faith for those who want to hear the Gospel with all its riches.