This Sunday we celebrate Mission Sunday, an important day in the life of the Church when we reach out in solidarity and pray for all the Christian missions of the world. Jesus was the first and greatest missionary, proclaiming the Kingdom of God and the plan of salvation. He is our model for evangelisation. The Scripture readings today encourage us to grow in communion with the Risen Lord who gives his life to us in the Eucharist.
In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah describes how the life of the suffering servant will bring redemption to others “by his sufferings shall my servant justify many, taking their faults on himself”. The same theme is applied in the Gospel as Jesus describes how he will take on the role of a servant, giving himself totally to the point of death and redeeming us by his sufferings “for the Son of Man himself did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many”. Jesus emphasises that the call to discipleship is to serve one another in humility and love “anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be slave to all” By offering himself on the Cross Jesus reflects the extent of God’s love for us; it is only through his death and resurrection that we can find salvation and redemption, a gift of God’s grace and mercy offered to all people. The second reading from the Letter to the Hebrews invites us to renew our faith in God, through Jesus, who reveals to us the great mercy of God. “we shall have mercy from him and find grace when we are in need to help”.
Today we thank God for the gift of our faith and reflect on what it means to be missionary in our everyday lives. As Christians we are all missionaries for Christ gives us a responsibility through the Church to build the kingdom of God. Faith is to be shared, when we experience the joy of knowing God and being loved by Him we have a duty to share this joy with others. We can further the mission of Christ in our world today by being witnesses of love and compassion to others, especially the poor, marginalised and vulnerable, thereby growing in communion with our brothers and sisters throughout the world.
In his message for Mission Sunday Pope Benedict XVI underlines the importance of evangelisation, and how a living encounter with Jesus is at the heart of the missionary call:
“The encounter with Christ as a living Person, who satisfies the thirst of the heart, cannot but lead to the desire to share with others the joy of this presence and to make him known, so that all may experience this joy. It is necessary to renew the enthusiasm of communicating the faith to promote a new evangelization of the communities and Countries with a long-standing Christian tradition which are losing their reference to God so that they may rediscover the joy of believing… Faith in God, in this project of love brought about in Christ, is first and foremost a gift and a mystery which must be welcomed in the heart and in life, and for which we must always thank the Lord. However, faith is a gift that is given to us to be shared; it is a talent received so that it may bear fruit; it is a light that must never be hidden, but must illuminate the whole house. It is the most important gift which has been made to us in our lives and which we cannot keep to ourselves”.
(Pope Benedict XVI 6 January 2012) (P M 2012)