HOMILY WEEKDAY 26 04 – Year II
Discipleship: A Test of Faith, and
Memorial of St Thérèse of the Child Jesus
(Job 19:21-27; Ps 27; Lk 10:1-12)
A priest, who was addressing his sermon on Jesus especially to the kids in the congregation, started by describing an imaginary special person who was very kind, good, loved all people and helped everybody, etc. As he spoke, he noticed one excited young boy and asked him what he wanted to say. The boy blurted out, “I know that man – he lives just down the street from me!”
This little story links to our call to discipleship in the gospel, to be that kind of person, that kind of follower of Jesus, like St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus.
Luke has two missions, first of the apostles and then of the disciples, to show this mission belongs to the whole church. The number 70 refers to Genesis 10:2-31, indicating all the peoples of the earth. The passage conveys a sense of growth and movement. This commission foreshadows the mission of the early Church to the nations, and establishes the pattern for those who are sent out. Two witnesses were required for a testimony to be credible. The disciples are sent ahead of Jesus to prepare the way for him. In that sense they are forerunners, evangelists, who perpetuate the role of John the Baptist.
Today we are being missioned to carry on that work, that same ministry of the apostles and the early disciples, to prepare the way for people to get to know, love and serve Jesus. The New Interpreters Bible presents ten principles for mission that Jesus outlined:
- The world needs the Church’s mission (“The harvest is plentiful”).
- Prayer is important (“Ask the Lord of the harvest”).
- Each disciple must be an active participant (“Go on your way”).
- Deal with hostility and resistance in a non-violent manner (“Be like lambs among wolves”).
- Be single-minded (“Greet no one on the road”).
- Proclaim the Reign of God (“Pass on peace and say the kingdom is here”).
- Be open to other’s culture and agenda (“Eat what is set before you”).
- Be prepared for failure (“When they do not receive you”).
- Persevere in the mission (“Shake the dust from your feet and move on”).
- Be assured of the mission (“Know this – the kingdom of God has come near.”)
By principles such as these, the Church can be guided in every generation. The context, means and forms of the mission may change continually, but its basis in God’s redemptive love remains constant.
There is implicit in this gospel the reality of consolation and desolation that is part and parcel of a spiritual life, and that of anyone trying to live and spread the gospel. The experience of Job in the first reading, whose faith was strong enough to accept his suffering as redemptive, without bitterness or resentment, and Mother Theresa of Calcutta, whose faith was so strong she was given the experience of the apparent absence of God in her life for over fifty years, stand as inspiring examples for us.
In her own way, St. Therese of the Child Jesus lived out these readings, with her realization that love was at the heart of the Church, and at last she had found her calling, her place in the Body of Christ. She would be love, and that for her was a source of great joy and jubilation
Marie-Françoise Thérèse Martin was born in Normandy, France, in 1873, ninth and youngest child of Louis Martin and Azélie-Marie Guérin; only five daughters survived to adulthood. Their mother died when Thérèse was only five years old. The family then moved to Lisieux, where she was raised by her father, her sisters and an aunt. Three of her sisters became Carmelite nuns and the fourth joined the Visitandines. Thérèse entered the Carmel of Lisieux when she was 15. Her motto was a phrase from the great Carmelite mystic, John of the Cross: “Love is repaid by love alone.” Thérèse held special devotions to the heart of Jesus and to the spiritual Motherhood of Mary. Tuberculosis limited her activities. She pioneered the ideal of the ‘little way’: fidelity in the small things, trust and complete self-surrender to God. Thérèse had a gift for writing, and the prioress, her sister Pauline, directed her to write first about her childhood, then about her life in the convent. These were combined into The Story of a Soul, a modern spiritual autobiography. Known popularly as The Little Flower, Thérèse died on September 30, 1897. Though her life spanned only 24 years, her faith and simplicity were remarkable. She was canonized in 1925 and made Doctor of the Church in 1997. She is a patron of missions.
The Eucharist was food for the journey of the early Church, for St. Thérèse of Liseux, and it is our nourishment for the journey today. May our celebration empower us to go out, live out those principles of mission and be bearers of Good News to those entrusted to our care and to all we meet.