Author of the Gospel according to Luke, and the Acts of the Apostles Mass of the Anniversary for the Dedication of a Church
Lit of the Word. Chr. 5:6-11. 13-6:2 Ps 83 Cor 3:9-13, 16-17 Jn 4:19-24
The purpose of Christ’s Church is summed up in one word .... mission! Christ’s mission as you know is to spread the word of God and his saving love to all the peoples of the world! But Christ’s mission is not to be a solo effort. His generosity, his love and trust in his human creation is such that his desire is to share the responsibility of that mission with his people: and so once he has gathered his core group, Jesus then ‘co’-missions his Apostles as his aids; the prefix ‘co’ meaning to share with someone or a group, together or jointly, both in partnership with and in equality. [Collins English Dictionary] Jesus’ instruction to his disciples was and remains simple and unequivocal, meaning it’s as plain as a pikestaff: ‘Do the same as I have done! .... Follow my example!’ ..... Spread the word of God and his saving love to all peoples of the world! And do not worry, as I shall be with you ’till the end of time!
What does that commissioning mean and entail, both to Jesus and his disciples, which includes you and me? Paul couldn’t be more explicit in his understanding of the meaning! He says ....
‘You are God’s building!’ .........
Because you carry the Word of God in you, in your heart and soul, you are the Ark of the New Covenant, just as validly as the two stone tablets Moses placed in the Ark of the Covenant at Mount Horeb. The stone tablets imprinted with God’s commandments, were proof of God’s covenant with the Israelites. You and I are the living proof of God’s Covenant with his people through the Word of Jesus passed on to us through the gospels and sealed with Jesus’ blood poured out on Calvary.
Paul then wraps-up, summarises the divine privilege Jesus had conferred on his people in two sentences:
‘Didn’t you realise ..... that you were God’s temple ..... and that the Spirit of God was living among you? If anybody should destroy the temple of God, [you and me] God will destroy him, because the temple of God is sacred; .............. and you are the temple [of God].’
Today is Mission Sunday. Is it of greater significance that any other Sunday? No! With the exception that in this parish it just so happens to coincide with the anniversary of the dedication of St Luke and St Teresa’s, .... but every Sunday we celebrate the resurrection of Christ our saviour and saviour of the world; but it is a special day in this context, in so far that it highlights the responsibility we have as sacred missioners of Holy Mother Church, the Body of Christ, to love and cherish that sacred body. How do we, in our parish, demonstrate that love for the world-wide church, the body of Christ? Well, the Holy Father invites all Catholics to contribute to a special collection for Missio, his charity for world mission. It is to help those who are poor or in need, regardless of their background or belief. It unites Catholics all over the world in prayer and celebration, and it supports missionaries, who on behalf of the Body of Christ, represent us in the field. As our representatives they act as teachers, medics, carers, protectors of children and the vulnerable, and they are messengers of Christ to those crying for help from poverty and abuse of every sort.
Where does the gospel square up to the mission theme? You will have realised that the gospel we have just heard recalls the encounter between Jesus and Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well. After the discourse on ‘living water’, Jesus tells her to fetch her man to him, and she replies that she doesn’t have one currently, to which Jesus replies: ‘your right on that point. You’ve had five already and your current one isn’t your husband either!’ and she answers; ‘I see you’re a prophet sir.’ The outcome of the encounter is that the woman returns to her town and reports the meeting she has had with Jesus. The result? Many Samaritans came to faith in Jesus because of her testimony. The Samaritan woman (note, woman) despite her flamboyant history was the first missionary to the Gentiles. We don’t know if Jesus reprimanded her for the number of men in her life. We do know that many Samaritans came to see him and he stayed in their town for two days, all the more remarkable when we remember that the Jews and Samaritans hated each other.
Missionaries come from all walks of life, both from religious societies and lay organisations. They are our agents, our representatives in the world-wide Church, and we are responsible for their welfare and the welfare of those to whom they administer help. The funds raised in this appeal will, predominately be used for those in impoverished and remote areas overseas. The funds will help build chapels, schools, orphanages, clinics and dispensaries. The funds will transform lives and enable the church to flourish and grow.
There is a basket available for any offerings you may wish to make, but individual supporters can give directly through a secure website by visiting missio.org.uk/donate. Please make cheques payable to World Mission Sunday or Missio.