The opening paragraph of the Vatican II “Decree On The Mission Activity Of The Church,” titled “Ad Gentes” (To the Nations), declares: “Divinely sent to the nations of the world to be unto them ‘a universal sacrament of salvation,’ the Church, driven by the inner necessity of her own catholicity, and obeying the mandate of her Founder (cf. Mark 16:16), strives ever to proclaim the Gospel to all men. The Apostles themselves, on whom the Church was founded, following in the footsteps of Christ, ‘preached the word of truth and begot churches.’ It is the duty of their successors to make this task endure ‘so that the word of God may run and be glorified’ (2 Thess. 3:1) and the kingdom of God be proclaimed and established throughout the world.” Interestingly, this quote underlies today’s readings.
In the First Reading, Luke demonstrates how Paul and Barnabas who were among the ‘prophets and teachers’ of the Church of Antioch were set apart for missions through the influence of the Holy Spirit. We can imagine how useful and instrumental these men were to the local Church; nevertheless, the Holy Spirit wanted them to leave that community to save and rescue the souls of other communities, where the Gospel is needed most, and willingly, the members prayed for them and sent them off for the mission – a sacrificial self-giving. Likewise, in today’s Gospel (cf. Jn. 12: 44-50), we hear Christ talking of the Father as the One who sent him in order that he might save the world and not condemn it. Throughout the Gospel of John, Christ has often described the Father as the One who sent him. The sending of the Son on the part of the Father is also a sacrificial self-giving, springing from God’s immeasurable love for mankind (cf. Jn. 3:16).
Over the years, the Church, obeying and imitating her Master, Jesus Christ, has always sent talented members as missionaries to places where they are needed the most. That the gospel was able to arrive at our doorsteps today was out of the generosity of the Church and the missionaries who accepted to be sent. Thus, as missionaries of today and yesterday, we share in the same mandate that Jesus gave to his disciples: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature” (Mk 16,15). This is the mandate to every baptized Christian: we are baptized and, as disciples of Jesus, we are sent to proclaim God’s saving work in a selfless way.
Till date, the ‘Macedonian call’ still rings “over the restless waves” asking that the light of Christ be sent so that souls would be rescued and saved. As such, we are all encouraged to respond to this clarion call in order that “a Christ-like spirit be found everywhere”, and that the words of today’s Psalmist [Ps. 66(67):2-3,5-6,8 “…So will your ways be known upon earth and all nations learn your saving help…”] may reach its full accomplishment.
© Fr. Chinaka Justin Mbaeri, OSJ
Paroquia Nossa Senhora de Fatima, Vila Sabrina, São Paulo, Brazil
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