HOMILY SUNDAY 14 – C
Missionary Disciples – Missionary Church
(Isaiah 66:10-14; Psalm 66; Galatians 6:14-18; Lk 10:1-12; 17-20)
A young boy was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up. He replied he wanted to become a minister so he could stand up in Church and yell.
What is a missionary? Do you see yourself as one? Today’s liturgy invits us to proclaim the kingdom of God as a missionary disciples and as a missionary Church.
Pope Francis, in his Encyclical Evangelii Gaudium # 120, says this: “In virtue of their baptism, all members of the People of God have become missionary disciples. All the baptized, whatever their position in the Church of their level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelization. We must go out like the disciples, the Samaritan woman and St Paul after encountering Jesus.
To be baptized, to be a member of the Church, is to be missionary, to reach out, to spread the Good News. Yet in a world of secularity, pluralism, multi-culturalism, political correctness and tolerance, how does one evangelize and carry out this missionary task?
Some years back the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate held a series of symposiums in North America on this very topic – Mission to the Developed World. Fr. William Steckling, superior general of the Oblates, in his opening address at the symposium in Edmonton, called North America and Europe the most difficult missions in the world.
The gospel today provides us with some helpful criteria for mission. First of all, Jesus sends out his disciples on a mission to prepare the way for his coming. That is the first fact: disciples are sent to prepare the way for the Lord.
The fact that Jesus sends out 72 perhaps implies that Jesus sends out all his disciples – we are all meant to go out as missionaries. This is not an option but a basic understanding of being a disciple. We are all to be missionaries.
Secondly, we are sent to proclaim the Kingdom of God. Jesus came to initiate the reign of God here in this world, right here and now. St Paul described the Kingdom of God as the peace, joy and justice of the Holy Spirit. Peace and joy are not just passing emotions, but ways of being, gifts of the Spirit. They are our legacy as followers of Jesus. The disciples’ joy is flows from the promise of eternal life. That which Israel hoped for in the future is now being realized not by the proud scribes who studied the Word of God with arrogance, but by the humble who are prepared to receive it.
Justice is a right relationship with God, all others, ourselves and all of creation. There should be no one in the world that I have not forgiven. There should be no one in the world of whom I have not asked for forgiveness if need be. When we are reconciled and in a harmonious relationship with all of God’s creation, then the Kingdom of God has begun here on earth. Jesus and his disciples are experiencing the active presence of God (Satan overcome, the excluded reconciled, the Good News proclaimed to the poor – all that was to happen at the end of time made present in Jesus’ preaching and ministry) making present the salvation of God. Our task as missionaries is to live in the Kingdom of God, and to proclaim that Kingdom by our very lives.
Some years ago the Church celebrated the 50thanniversary of the founding of Fidei Donum priests. This movement stressed the key points of mission as it is understood in the Church today: everyone is a missionary by baptism; every priest is ordained for the world, not just one diocese; every parish is missionary, and mission is of the essence of the Church – these are but some of the teachings of this conference.
Bishop Fred Grecco of Toronto shared his experience of attending the charismatic conference in that city called Lift Jesus Higher. Most of the participants were there for the first time. When he asked one of the organizers how that came about, he was told that some years back the organizers realized their annual conference was made up of the same people year after year. They reflected on that fact and realized that was not good, so they asked each participant to bring along a new person the next year, and that transformed the gathering. They became more missionary, reaching out to the un-churched and the unbelievers. They were evangelizing.
What about us? Mission for us means starting right here, right now, at home, school, office or workplace. We are all to proclaim and help realize the Kingdom of God in our own environment. Three instructions are given regarding the conduct of the mission in each village: 1) Eat what is provided, 2) heal the sick, and 3) announce the Kingdom. These three facets of the mission encompass the creation of community (table fellowship), care of physical needs, and proclamation of the kingdom. The disciples, therefore, were charged to continue the three facets of Jesus’ work in Galilee. The disciples declare the kingdom has come near to those who receive them because of Jesus’ works and the disciples preaching. In their presence, the kingdom has come near. Let us make this a reality that we also will carry out.
The Eucharist ends in Latin with the words Ite, missa est which means Go the Mass is Ended. We don’t just leave the Church, we are sent out, mandated to go out and be missionaries – bread that is broken for the world.
So, let us be missionary disciples and proclaim the kingdom of God as a missionary Church.