29th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle A
Theme : Christian Stewardship – Mission!
1st Reading: Isaiah 45:1.4-6
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 96
2nd Reading: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5
Gospel : Matthew 22:15:21
- The movie: “The March of the Penguins” tells the story of a mysterious journey that dates back thousands of years, that only penguins have survived. These birds have wings but they cannot fly, they think they are fish and every year they embark on nearly an impossible journey to give life to their young. For twenty days and twenty nights, the Emperor Penguin marches to a place so cold and severe that is supports no other life. They walk seventy miles into the darkest, coldest and driest continent on earth. In the face of fierce icy weather, as predators hunt them, and storms lash them, the penguins guard their eggs and walk in search of food. Yet, in the harshest place on earth, love finds a way, as the adorable, fuzzy chicks are born!
- This is the story of a family’s selfless and self-sacrificing journey to bring life into the world!
- Many people of countless generations from Europe have shared in the call offered by Jesus at the end of Matthew’s Gospel!
- Men and women, laypeople and religious, have left everything and followed the way of Jesus to spread his Good News to the world!
- They have risked their lives, put themselves in danger and suffered real hardship!
- They heard the Great Commission of Jesus: “Go, make disciples of all the nations.” AND THEY RESPONDED!
- Mission Sunday is not only about celebrating the many men and women of the past who have gone to harsh places on earth to spread the Good News of Jesus and be of service to the building of the Kingdom
- It’s about our commitment to GO OUT too!
- Pope Francis in his Message for today’s World Mission Day writes: “In this year, marked by the suffering and challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic…we are indeed frightened, disorientated and afraid. Pain and death make us experience our human frailty…”
- Our world seems harsh, dark and cold at the moment!
- In addition, society seems inhospitable to the message of the Gospel!
- Perhaps, as we consider our parish vision and mission, we feel a little like those penguins setting out on their arduous journey!?
- We feel incapable of following the example of those early missionaries from Europe!
- But, in this present context, the Pope reminds us that, “the call to mission, the invitation to step out of ourselves for love of God and neighbour presents itself as an opportunity for sharing, service and prayer. The mission that God entrusts to each one of us leads us from fear and introspection to a renewed realization that we find ourselves precisely when we give ourselves to others.”
- God is constantly at work in and through the mission of the Church to make of us a people of faith, love and hope.
- The God who touched the hearts of the pagan Thessalonians through a great believer like St. Paul,
- And also touch the hearts of his chosen people through a pagan like King Cyrus
- Can touch our hearts today to make us go out of ourselves for the good of others!
- We should never underestimate the power of God to break through to us in all kinds of unexpected ways, through all sorts of unexpected people!
- However, even God does not force us.
- Like the Herodians and Pharisees in the Gospel, we can be closed to God’s call!
- Pope Francis reminds us that “Mission is a free and conscious response to God’s call. Yet we discern this call only when we have a personal relationship of love with Jesus present in his Church.”
- We can keep God at a distance or we can give God what belongs to him – namely ourselves!
- We can make this submission to God with confidence because he is a God who loves us and who, in his love, has chosen us.
- But it is only when we give him ourselves, that he can use us as truly missionary disciples!
- The Pope asks us, in his Message, “are we prepared to welcome the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, to listen to the call to mission? Are we willing to be sent forth to witness to our faith, to proclaim Jesus Christ, to share the divine life of the Holy Spirit by building up the Church?”
- Long, long ago, God asked: ‘Whom shall I send?’
- The Prophet Isaiah answered and went!
- Once more God asks – he asks us and awaits the same generous and convincing response: ‘Here am I, send me!’