Q: Archbishop J, what is Mission Sunday?
Many think the Church has a mission. St John Paul II thought, however, it is rather the mission which has a Church. We as Church, all of us, are at the service of God’s mission, which is to reconcile all people to Himself, to one other and to creation, and to make His people ministers of reconciliation.
This is not a passive desire in the heart of the Trinity. The most profound active desire of God is that reconciliation takes place at all these levels (2 Cor 5:11–20). That is the understanding behind the term ‘Kingdom of God’.
God’s mission is to establish a Kingdom of truth and love, of righteousness and peace. We all have a part to play in this. In so far as we are connected to Christ as a disciple, each of us is called to participate in making manifest this Kingdom. Didn’t Jesus say: “Do not be afraid littleflock, it has pleased your Father to give you a kingdom?” This is the mission: to make manifest the Kingdom that the Father has already given us through Jesus Christ.
Moving to Mission
Pope Francis addresses his Mission Sunday message this year to young people. Conscious of the present synod in Rome on young people, the faith and vocational discernment, the Holy Father addresses them directly with the theme: Together with the young let us bring the Gospel toall.
In our diocese we want to remember that mission begins wherever you are. Mission is living the Gospel with joy in a conscious way—that is how each of us, little and big, rich and poor, cleric, consecrated or layperson can manifest the Kingdom of God.
For a long time we thought of mission as crossing waters to do extraordinary heroic deeds. While this is valid, we can do extraordinary deeds of love right where we are. This, too, is answering the missionary call.
Imagine if each of us chose to relate to those around us with little acts of kindness and love. Imagine if in our families we chose to spend time to listen and support and accompany each other with great love. What a difference that will make. Imagine if we shed the light of love on indifference, injustice and neglect. Could our family, our community or our nation remain the same if we all made these choices?
To move to mission is to move from living for oneself, to living for God who is the source of all and the beginning of all.It is to acknowledge that the life of grace runs through our veins and to allow this life-giving force to animate all our living, moving us from complacency to the service of the Divine action that transforms our world. Mission is not something we do; it is a way of living and a way of being in this world.
Mission is to connect to the source of life, the very depths of God, and to draw from this profound encounter until we become God’s presence to others and the manifestation of God who is shaping all aspects of our living. Then, our living will not be in vain.
The Holy Father calls to the young specially, and so do I. They do not want the rituals or the external edifice that we are so interested in. They want a path to God. They want an encounter with the source of life. They want to drink deeply from that Living Water. They want to drink and be satisfied. Their expectation from religion is so different from the generations that went before. They will not settle for less: nor should we.
They are interested in the climate and how we have damaged the delicate ecosystems of the earth. They are interested in injustice and the inequality that is seen and accepted as part of everyday life by us, the older generation. They are interested in social prejudice and how we have become accustomed to blindness and intolerance as a way of speaking and acting towards others while calling it Christianity.
Mission, my brothers and sisters, begins right where you are. It requires that we allow God to open our mind and heart so as to have His perspective to see the world, and then to commit to performing extraordinary acts of love in our ordinary interactions of daily life.
Every year the Church marks Mission Sunday or World Mission Day. It is a time for remembering we are called to participate fully in the mission of God. The Church in all parts of the world becomes engaged in actions and sacrifices to promote mission throughout the world.
The Mission Sunday collection supports local Churches like ours in the Caribbean that cannot yet fully support themselves financially. In Trinidad and Tobago, we are accustomed to find what we need for the mission of the Church.
In the two other Churches where I have had the privilege to be bishop, they could not survive without this act of solidarity from all of us. Our collection is a love offering that allows many around the world to be Church, in areas where the proclamation of the Gospel is hindered and the Church fragile for historical reasons.
The Pontifical Mission Society is the Vatican agency that co-ordinates these missionary efforts. Let us pray for our Holy Father that he does not tire in leading us deeper into the mission of God. Let us pray also for the Pontifical Missionary Society in the Vatican and in each of our dioceses in the region that they may work tirelessly to animate us to live fully the mission for which Christ gave his life as an offering for all.
KEY MESSAGE: We are all called to live mission wherever we are.
ACTION STEP:Consider whether you are living for yourself or for God’s Kingdom. Repent and receive the Good News; live the Good News; and become the Good News.
SCRIPTURE READING: 2 Cor 5:11–20; Lk 12:22–34