Today is World Mission Sunday. It is our chance to show love and solidarity to our brothers and sisters overseas who share our faith. In offering our prayers and donations, we join with missionaries everywhere in communion and compassion to support them in spreading the Good News. Pope Francis has a beautiful message for this occasion. Let me quote just two paragraphs:
For this year’s World Mission Sunday, I have chosen a theme inspired by the story of the disciples on the way to Emmaus, in the Gospel of Luke (cf. 24:13-35): “Hearts on fire, feet on the move”. Those two disciples were confused and dismayed, but their encounter with Christ in the word and in the breaking of the bread sparked in them the enthusiastic desire to set out again towards Jerusalem and proclaim that the Lord had truly risen. In the Gospel account, we perceive this change in the disciples through a few revealing images: their hearts burned within them as they heard the Scriptures explained by Jesus, their eyes were opened as they recognized him and, ultimately, their feet set out on the way. By meditating on these three images, which reflect the journey of all missionary disciples, we can renew our zeal for evangelization in today’s world.
The image of “feet setting out” reminds us once more of the perennial validity of the missio ad gentes, the mission entrusted to the Church by the risen Lord to evangelize all individuals and peoples, even to the ends of the earth. Today more than ever, our human family, wounded by so many situations of injustice, so many divisions and wars, is in need of the Good News of peace and salvation in Christ. I take this opportunity to reiterate that “everyone has the right to receive the Gospel. Christians have the duty to announce it without excluding anyone, not as one who imposes a new obligation, but as one who shares a joy, signals a beautiful horizon, offers a desirable banquet” (Evangelii Gaudium, 14). Missionary conversion remains the principal goal that we must set for ourselves as individuals and as a community, because “missionary outreach is paradigmatic for all the Church’s activity” (ibid., 15). (It is very easy to google and read the full message of the Pope).
I myself had many beautiful experiences as a missionary priest in the Diocese of Kohima in the north-eastern Indian state of Nagaland, prior to my coming to the USA. Being one with the simple folks in their own struggles gave me so much contentment. Living with minimum conveniences in the mission lands (no regular power, no heating during winter, no running water, etc.), I was happy to join other missionary priests, nuns, catechists, and parish leaders to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to those who were eager to know the truth of the Catholic Church. I’m sure our Fr. Lancelot also will have many beautiful missionary experiences to share with us.
How wonderful that we have missionaries coming from different countries to St. Matthias to make the Mission Appeal (as part of the Missionary Cooperation Plan of our Diocese) each year. We have been very generous in our financial support of the Missions. Let us do the same on this World Mission Sunday. In a world where so much divides us, let us rejoice in our unity as missionaries through our Baptism, as it offers each one of us an opportunity to support the life-giving presence of the Church among the poor and marginalized in more than 1,111 mission dioceses.
Your brother in Christ,
Fr. Abraham Orapankal