On this World Mission Sunday, we hear from the Chief Pastor of the Church, Pope Francis, as he writes to us about how each of us is called to become a missionary disciple. “For the month of October 2019, I have asked the whole Church revive her missionary awareness and commitment as we commemorate the centenary of the Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud of Pope Benedict XV (30 November 1819). Its farsighted and prophetic vision of the apostolate has made me realize once again the importance of renewing the Church’s missionary commitment and giving fresh evangelical impulse to her work of preaching and bringing to the world the salvation of Jesus Christ, who died and rose again.
“The title of this present Message is the same as that of October’s Missionary Month: Baptized and Sent: The Church of Christ on Mission in the World. Celebrating this month will help us first to rediscover the missionary dimension of our faith in Jesus Christ, a faith graciously bestowed on us in baptism. Our filial relationship with God is not something simply private, but always in relation to the Church. Through our communion with God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—we, together with so many of our other brothers and sisters, are born to new life. This divine life is not a product for sale—we do not practice proselytism—but a treasure to be given, communicated and proclaimed: that is the meaning of mission. We received this gift freely and we share it freely (cf. Mt 10:8), without excluding anyone. God wills that all people be saved by coming to know the truth and experiencing his mercy through the ministry of the Church, the universal sacrament of salvation (cf. 1Tim 2:4; Lumen gentium, #48).
“The Church is on mission in the world. Faith in Jesus Christ enables us to see all things in their proper perspective, as we view the world with God’s own eyes and heart. Hope opens us up to the eternal horizons of the divine life that we share. Charity, of which we have a foretaste in the sacraments and in fraternal love, impels us to go forth to the ends of the earth. A Church that presses forward to the farthest frontiers requires a constant and ongoing missionary conversion. How many saints, how many men and women of faith, witness to the fact that this unlimited openness, this going forth in mercy, is indeed possible and realistic, for it is driven by love and its deepest meaning as gift, sacrifice and gratuitousness (cf. 2Cor 5:14-21)! The man who preaches God must be a man of God.
“This missionary mandate touches us personally: I am a mission, always; you are a mission, always; every baptized man and woman is a mission. People in love never stand still: they are drawn out of themselves, they are attracted and attract others in turn, they give themselves to others and build relationships that are life-giving. As far as God’s love is concerned, no one is useless or insignificant. Each of us is a mission to the world, for each of us is the fruit of God’s love. Even if parents can betray their love by lies, hatred and infidelity, God never takes back his gift of life. From eternity he has destined each of his children to share in his divine and eternal life (cf. Eph 1:3-6).
“This life is bestowed on us in baptism, which grants us the gift of faith in Jesus Christ, the conqueror of sin and death. Baptism gives us rebirth in God’s own image and likeness and makes us members of the Body of Christ, which is the Church….Our mission, then, is rooted in the fatherhood of God and the motherhood of the Church. The mandate given by the Risen Jesus at Easter is inherent in Baptism: as the Father has sent me, so I send you, filled with the Holy Spirit, for the reconciliation of the world (cf. Jn 20:19-23; Mt 28:16-20). This mission is part of our identity as Christians; it makes us responsible for enabling all men and women to realize their vocation to be adoptive children of the Father, to recognize their personal dignity and to appreciate the intrinsic worth of every human life, from conception until natural death. Today’s rampant secularism, when it becomes an aggressive cultural rejection of God’s active fatherhood in our history, is an obstacle to authentic human fraternity, which finds expression in reciprocal respect for the life of each person. Without the God of Jesus Christ, every difference is reduced to a baneful threat, making impossible any real fraternal acceptance and fruitful unity within the human race.
“The universality of the salvation offered by God in Jesus Christ led Benedict XV to call for an end to all forms of nationalism and ethnocentrism, or the merging of the preaching of the Gospel with the economic and military interests of the colonial powers. In his Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud, the Pope noted that the Church’s universal mission requires setting aside exclusivist ideas of membership in one’s own country and ethnic group. The opening of the culture and the community to the salvific newness of Jesus Christ requires leaving behind every kind of undue ethnic and ecclesial introversion. Today too, the Church needs men and women who, by virtue of their baptism, respond generously to the call to leave behind home, family, country, language and local Church, and to be sent forth to the nations, to a world not yet transformed by the sacraments of Jesus Christ and his holy Church. By proclaiming God’s word, bearing witness to the Gospel and celebrating the life of the Spirit, they summon to conversion, baptize and offer Christian salvation, with respect for the freedom of each person and in dialogue with the cultures and religions of the people to whom they are sent. The mission ad gentes, which is always necessary for the Church, thus contributes in a fundamental way to the process of ongoing conversion in all Christians. Faith in the Easter event of Jesus, the ecclesial mission received in baptism, the geographic and cultural detachment from oneself and one’s own home, the need for salvation from sin and liberation from personal and social evil: all these demand the mission that reaches to the very ends of the earth.
“The providential coincidence of this centenary year with the celebration of the Special Synod on the Churches in the Amazon allows me to emphasize how the mission entrusted to us by Jesus with the gift of his Spirit is also timely and necessary for those lands and their peoples. A renewed Pentecost opens wide the doors of the Church, in order that no culture remains closed in on itself and no people cut off from the universal communion of the faith. No one ought to remain closed in self-absorption, in the self-referentiality of his or her own ethnic and religious affiliation. The Easter event of Jesus breaks through the narrow limits of worlds, religions and cultures, calling them to grow in respect for the dignity of men and women and towards a deeper conversion to the truth of the Risen Lord who gives authentic life to all.
“We entrust the Church’s mission to Mary our Mother. In union with her Son, from the moment of the Incarnation the Blessed Virgin set out on her pilgrim way. She was fully involved in the mission of Jesus, a mission that became her own at the foot of the Cross: the mission of cooperating, as Mother of the Church, in bringing new sons and daughters of God to birth in the Spirit and in faith.”
TWENTY-NINTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Today’s liturgy celebrates the virtue of perseverance. In the reading from Exodus, the Israelites face an attack from the Amelekites, a nomadic tribe they encountered in their wanderings through the desert. Through Moses’ perseverance, as he interceded with God in prayer, the people of Israel finally triumph over their enemy.
In the Gospel reading, a widow’s perseverance wins as well. Three groups of people were considered the most vulnerable and in need of support: the widow, the orphan, and the stranger. In the justice system in Israel, a judge was expected to give special attention to each of these groups. This makes the judge’s lack of attention to the widow’s pleas even more outrageous. Despite his rejection, the widow persists. Finally the judge gives in, not because of the justice of her cause but because she had worn him out.
The message of these two accounts could be easily mistaken. They both advocate persistence in prayer. A literal reading of these accounts may convey that persistence in prayer will change God’s mind, but this is nonsense. The God we believe in is a God of love, who promises fidelity to his covenant people. God’s love for us never fluctuates (see James 1:16-17). God’s love is always constant. Persistence in prayer is for our benefit. Through persistence in prayer, we change and deepen our faith and trust in God, his promises, and his love for us.
In the Second Reading, Paul also calls on his coworker, Timothy, as he exercises his ministry of proclaiming the Word, to “be persistent, whether it is convenient or inconvenient, convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.”
Addressing Timothy, Paul points out the importance of proclaiming Scripture. He makes it apparent that a disciple’s life revolves around the Word of God. In The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis speaks of taking quiet time to be with the Word of God, ponder it, and determine its meaning. He states, “We only devote periods of quiet time to the things or the people whom we love; and here we are speaking of the God whom we love, a God who wishes to speak to us. Because of this love, we can take as much time as we need, like every true disciple: ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening’” (#146).
In the Second Reading, we hear that we are to be persistent in proclaiming the Word of God, whether it is “convenient or inconvenient.” The Second Vatican Council document Lumen gentium notes that the Church can never cease in its mission. The document states, “Mother church never ceases to pray, hope and work, and she exhorts her children to purification and renewal so that the sign of Christ may shine more brightly over the face of the church” (#15).
For Your Reflection: What effect has persistence in prayer had on you? When have you looked to God for assistance? How is your faith reflected in your prayer life?
A LETTER FROM CARDINAL CUPICH
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Love for God’s people and the mission entrusted to us as disciples stands at the heart of Renew My Church. Each October on World Mission Sunday, we join with the Church across the globe in joyful response to the call to “go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature” (Mk 16:15). This year, the Holy Father Pope Francis calls for an Extraordinary Mission Month throughout the month of October in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud which “sought to give new impetus to the missionary task of proclaiming the Gospel.”
In calling for this Extraordinary Mission Month, the Holy Father invites us to transcend national boundaries in these troubled times in our world, bearing witness to God’s saving will through the Church’s universal mission.” The World Mission Sunday collection, celebrated worldwide on October 20, supports the efforts of over 1,000 economically poor dioceses to provide spiritual and material aid to people across Africa, Asia, and remote areas of Latin America and the Pacific Islands. Recipient churches and congregations also bring hope to people facing poverty, violent conflict and displacement in the Middle East, Northeast Africa, India and Eastern Europe.
In honor of the Holy Father’s call to renewed fervor for the Church’s universal mission, every parish engaged in works of solidarity and charity with our global neighbors are invited to join the diverse community of the Archdiocese of Chicago in a Mass of Thanksgiving for missionaries next Sunday, October 27, at St. Ferdinand Church beginning at 5:00 PM. Together we will give thanks for the local parishes that are dedicated to the Catholic Church’s world mission.
It is my prayer that each parish is inspired to embrace World Mission Sunday as an opportunity to join with the global Church in making disciples throughout our world, as we are called to do during the Renew My Church process. May our witness inspire others in our Chicago community, especially young people, to embrace the call to love and follow Christ.
With every good wish, I remain,
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Blasé Cardinal Cupich
Archbishop of Chicago
EXPLORING THE DIACONATE
The Institute for Diaconal Studies (IDS) invites all men who feel the gentle nudge of the Holy Spirit to attend an Exploring the Diaconate session. It is a time to pray, discuss, and learn more about the discernment process and the formation program that aspirants and candidates pursue. Please join us with your wives, if married, as we explore the potential of a vocation, engage in dialogue and pray in search of the next step. All are welcome to attend.
Wednesday, November 6, 7:30 PM at St. Aloysius, Chicago, 1510 N. Claremont
Wednesday, March 25, 7:30 PM Office of the Diaconate, Forest Park, 816 Marengo Ave.
Wednesday, April 22, 7:30 PM SS. Cyril & Methodius, Lemont, Parish Life Center
Wednesday, April 29, 7:30 PM St. Thomas the Apostle, Chicago, Parish Hall
Contact Sr. Caroline Onuoha, DMMM 847-837-4563 or [email protected].
For more information, contact Deacon Bob Puhala at [email protected] or 847-837-4564.
Application Deadline for the 2020-2021 Aspirancy Path is June 1, 2020.
A CHUCKLE FOR YOUR PLEASURE
The computer in my high school classroom recently started acting up. After watching me struggle with it, one of my students came up and took over.
“Your hard drive crashed,” he said.
I called the computer services office and explained, “My computer is down. The hard drive crashed.”
“We can’t just send people down on your say-so. How do you know that’s the problem?”
“A student told me,” I answered.
“We’ll send someone over right away!”