Mission In The Spirit Of Service, Sacrifice, And Love
Readings: 1st: Is 53, 10-11; Ps 32; 2nd: Heb 4, 14-16; Gos Mk 10, 35-43
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working at the Sanctuario del Espiritu Santo, en Dorado, Puerto Rico, del Internacional Grupo Espiritano De Puerto Rico – Republica Dominicana. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
On this twenty ninth Sunday of ordinary time, we celebrate World Mission Sunday. It is a special day when Christ and His church invite us to reflect on our personal response, and to rededicate ourselves to the mission of Jesus Christ. It is a special day of prayer for the success of missions and for missionaries all over the world who have responded to the mandate of Christ: “Go, make disciples of all nations.”
Today, the Holy Father, Pope Francis exalts us: “I appeal in particular to young people, who are capable of courageous witness and generous deeds, even when these are counter cultural. Do not allow others to rob you of the ideal of a true mission and, of following Jesus through the total gift of yourself. In the depths of your conscience, ask yourself why you chose the religious missionary life, and take stock of your readiness to accept it for what it is: a gift of love at the service of the proclamation of the Gospel. Remember that, even before being necessary for those who have not yet heard it, the proclamation of the Gospel is a necessity for those who love the Master.”
In today’s gospel, through his discussion with his disciples, Jesus opens our eyes to the realities that confront us in mission. So, by asking them: “Can you drink the cup that I must drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I must be baptized?” Jesus reminds us of the challenges that we must overcome in mission before we could achieve an honorable place in the kingdom of God. Mission is all about service and sacrifice made in love for the salvation of all nations. This love is the kind that leads us to patience and docility to the will of God for us and for all nations. It is a kind of love that leads us to faithfulness in our mission of preaching, teaching, and healing others. It is the same kind of love that brought Jesus into conflict with the religious leaders and eventually cost him his life. Mission is also about honour. However, this honor is a reward of faithful service and sacrifice made in love.
Therefore on this Mission Sunday, Christ teaches us that to be great is to be ready to serve. Hence, Isaiah confirms this: “By his sufferings shall my servant justify many, taking their faults on himself.” So, through service and sacrifice in mission, we find our own peace and salvation; by liberating others, we liberate ourselves; by giving peace to others, we find our own peace; and of course, by identifying with others through the mission of God, Christ, identifies with us. This means the readiness to participate generously in the “crushing” that confronts us in God’s mission. Through this crushing, we give life to others and also receive eternal life in God’s kingdom which is the ultimate goal of mission.
Finally, as we celebrate Mission Sunday today, the voice of salvation continues to call us to be more active in God’s mission in all its dimensions. It awakens us to the grave challenges before us in God’s mission. This includes, changing and evolving cultures and societies that must be urgently evangelized. The good news is that we can overcome these challenges through the spirit of service, sacrifice and love. So, in the midst of the “crushing challenges” that confronts us, and in the midst of our own human weaknesses in God’s mission, we need to pay heed to what Hebrews tells us today: “For we do not have a high priest, who is incapable of feeling our weaknesses (or challenges) with us…Let us be confident, then in approaching the throne of grace, that we shall…find grace when we are in need of help.” This grace is sufficient for us to accomplish God’s mission. As we come to the end of the Year of Consecrated Life and are about to begin the Year of Mercy, I salute all missionaries all over the world. “O Lord, may your love and mercy be upon us, as we place our trust in you.”
Peace be with you!