BY: Fr. Evaristus Abu

Today is World Mission Sunday. Today, we celebrate the fact that the church is missionary by nature as Pope Francis says in his message for this year’s world mission Sunday: if the church fails in her work of mission, “she would no longer be the Church of Christ but one group that soon passes away.”

How does the Church carry out its work of mission? As members of the church, we all are evangelizers and our primary duty is to spread the Good News to the whole world through the witness of our life and the proclamation of the Gospel.

This is why in our first reading this morning, the Prophet Isaiah speaks of the mountain of the Lord as the place that would attract people from all over the world. “And all nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say: Come let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.”

The whole essence of mission is the fulfilment of this prophecy of Isaiah, bringing the whole world to the mountain of the house of God. Until we succeed in converting the whole world to the Christ, we have not completed our work of mission and it is only when this target is achieved shall we see an end to wars. As Isaiah says: “they shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift of sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” No wonder one of the messages of our Mother Mary at Fatima is that “war is a punishment for sin.”

It is only when the whole world is converted to Christ that we can talk about world peace. As Pope Francis says in his message for world mission Sunday: “The Gospel is the Good News filled with contagious joy, for it contains and offers new life… that life sets us free from every kind of selfishness and it is a source of creativity in love.” If and only if the world comes to Christ shall we have an end to selfishness, bitterness, fighting, division, “narrowness, racism, tribalism, and to promote everywhere and among all, reconciliation, fraternity and sharing.”

One might begin to wonder, where do we begin from? How do we convert the whole world to Christ?

First, by being converted ourselves. We cannot give what we do not have. If we are Christians only by mouth, if we do not practice what we preach, if our hearts are far from God, we cannot bring others to God. We only begin to preach by preaching to ourselves first, hence Pope Francis talks about the need for a constant exodus – the need to “go forth from our comfort zones… a sense of constant exile to make us aware that we are journeying towards our final home; heaven.” If all I care about is material things in this world, I cannot really say I am converted.”

Secondly, as St. Paul advises us in our second reading, we should always pray for our leaders and those in Government. It is very easy to criticize and condemn our leaders but we fail to understand that without God, they are can do nothing. People in Government are not super- humans, they are ordinary people like me filled with weakness and in need of God’s grace. Let us offer “supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving for kings and all who are in high positions.” If we pray for our leaders with the same power and velocity with which we condemn them, our country will be a better place.

Thirdly, we must actually do what Jesus said in our Gospel passage: “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel. He who believes and is baptized will be saved.” Preaching to the whole world means bringing all men the Sacraments. It is not just about “get a bible-believing church,” it is important that we bring people to the Sacraments especially to Holy Communion which Pope Francis calls the “medicine of immorality.”

The Sacraments are those signs that will accompany believers as the Gospel of Mark puts it. Baptism casts out demons, the rite of baptism contains exorcism. Confirmation makes us speak in tongues because we receive the Holy Spirit, it empowers us as soldiers of Christ such that we can pick up serpents and drink deadly poison and nothing will happen to us. The sacrament of anointing of the sick is the Laying on of Hands that Mark talks about and through it many are made well again, I have seen many miracles happen when I go to anoint the sick.

Finally, as Pope Francis says, “young people are the hope of mission.” CYON, you are the future of the church. If you are a youth and are yet to convert one person to God, you are wasting your energy, your creativity and zeal. Wake up today, use social media to your advantage, and bring the world closer to God. Above all, as we go to the missions, let us also give for the missions.

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, may the Virgin Mary, Star of Evangelization inspire us daily to say “Yes” to you and “Yes” to the ongoing work of Mission. Amen.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (World Mission Sunday 2017. Bible Study: Isaiah 2:1-5, 1st Timothy 2:1-8 and Mark 16:15-20).

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