Deacon Bob Young, Special to The Catholic Virginian
In the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 28, verse 19, Jesus initiates and inspires the call to mission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
This is the universal call of the Church — a call highlighted on World Mission Sunday, Oct. 22. Mission is at the heart of the Church. Jesus’ words in Matthew stirred the hearts of the apostles to take the Gospel and the love he taught to the world. The first missionaries desired to teach and invite the Gentiles and Jews to enter into a life with and for Christ. This invitation changed the world.
As Catholics, we are called to carry out that Gospel message from Matthew. Most of us cannot go to the nations, though many opportunities exist that allow that experience to happen. Those who do go to the mission fields to live for and with God’s people offer everything they have. They hold a true trust in God that he will provide what they need.
I experienced this first hand when, in 2014, my wife and I sold all we owned, less a bed and some winter clothes, to travel to and live in Honduras as missionaries with the Missioners of Christ.
In our case, the opportunity was right. We had retired from our jobs, and the doors were opened to make the mission possible. All we had to do was respond and trust. Though we had hoped to spend three years there, due to family circumstances we returned to the United States after serving for two years.
We are grateful to all those who prayed for us and all who helped support us financially, including the Diocese of Richmond Propagation of the Faith committee, which provided a grant for our language school.
As much as we place all our trust in God, the world still requires us to “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.” Any mission work the Church carries out requires financial support. This is just a simple fact.
However, God provides for all of us in many ways. Some he calls to do the work of mission, some he calls to support the work of mission. In the end, it is what makes his plan for salvation possible.
Groups and organizations form and respond to a need or a call. Some are builders, some healers, some feeders, some ministers, some evangelizers, but all respond from their hearts to build up the Church and God’s kingdom.
The most important group of missionaries we have are the providers and enablers — those who cannot “go,” but who can make it possible for others to respond to what God is asking of them. Often, as we solicited funds for our mission work, many said, “I cannot go, but I can help.” This help is critical to the mission of the Church and its ability to respond to the parishes and missions in need.
In addressing World Mission Sunday, Pope Francis wrote, “The Pontifical Mission Societies are a precious means of awakening in every Christian community a desire to reach beyond its own confines and security to proclaim the Gospel to all.
“In them, thanks to a profound missionary spirituality, nurtured daily, and a constant commitment to raising missionary awareness and enthusiasm, young people, adults, families, priests, bishops and men and women religious, work to develop a missionary heart in everyone.
“World Mission Day, promoted by the Society of the Propagation of the Faith, is a good opportunity for enabling the missionary heart of Christian communities to join in prayer, testimony of life and communion of goods, in responding to the vast and pressing needs of evangelization.”
As World Mission Sunday approaches, please take time to pray and consider how you can be part of the enabling process to further the mission of the Church. Your support, no matter how small or great, becomes part of the Great Commission. Mission is who we are; spreading the love of Christ is what we do.