“Here am I, send me” (Is. 6:8)

World Mission Sunday Homily by Archbishop I. A. Kaigama, at St. Gabriel’s Chaplaincy, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Abuja, 18th October, 2020.

Readings: Isaiah 2:1-5; Ps. 98:1,2-3a, 4-6; Timothy 2:1-8; Matthew 28:16-20

Theme: “Here am I, send me” (Is. 6:8)

In the Credo we profess God as Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth and we express the Trinitarian mystery that Jesus the Son is consubstantial with the Father and the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. Today, the Church calls us to see God as one who sends, and He is sending you and I, indeed all of us, to proclaim in words and deeds, the Good News of salvation.

In the fullness of time God sent His only Son. He sent the Holy Spirit on the Apostles like tongues of fire. He sent Abraham to an unknown land and Abraham without questioning left in obedience. The prophets were sent even despite their protestation of unworthiness to bring the message of salvation and hope to a people deviating from the ways of God or devastated by calamities.

The Apostles immediately set out on mission as soon as the Holy Spirit descended on them. Stephen as a Deacon, meant to serve at table, but filled with the Holy Spirit, worked miracles and preached without fear. Peter was a noted missionary to the Jews and Paul the persecutor became an apostle of exceptional zeal and even while undergoing terrible hardships as he ministered to the Gentiles insisted that nothing would separate him from the love of Christ.

Every baptized Christian has a “missionary DNA”, meaning that at baptism we are infused with the very essence of what defines and makes us Christians, bearers and proclaimers of the Good News. The missionary mandate in today’s Gospel, is clear: Go and preach. This was the mandate that set missionaries on the move over the centuries, who dared into foreign lands and peoples, without any certainty of means of livelihood or security. They left their fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters feeling like St. Paul: woe to me if I do not preach the gospel (cf. 1 Cor. 9:16).

We are beneficiaries of the sufferings and deaths of countless missionaries who sought to pass on the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ. In 1862 the SMA missionaries arrived in Lagos and in 1885, the Holy Ghost missionaries arrived in Onitsha. In my village in Taraba State, the Augustinian Missionaries arrived in 1945, having arrived in Yola in 1940. Without their missionary dedication that bore so much fruits, you would not have had the present Secretary General of the CSN or the present Archbishop of Abuja. We thank God for the activities of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, founded in 1622, for its missionary animation, coordination and support.

Let us give a thought and pray for those countries where missionaries are forced to preach and minister in hiding, some of them including parts of Nigeria where Christians suffer systematic violence or serious discrimination in many forms or cannot get land to build Churches.

The Holy Father reminded us during the Extraordinary Missionary Month in October last year and does so again in his message for this year’s World Mission Sunday titled, “Here am I, send me” (Is 6:8), that “the call to mission, the invitation to step out of ourselves for love of God and neighbour presents itself as an opportunity for sharing, service and intercessory prayer…. We find ourselves precisely when we give ourselves to others”.

During these challenging times of the Corona virus pandemic, social distancing should not affect our love, caring for creation and for one another. On Mission Sunday like today, a special collection is taken up everywhere in the world and is given in its totality to the support of Churches in the developing world. All Catholics are encouraged to give, no matter how small. These collections are used under the direction of the Pope for the purposes of creating new dioceses, building new rectories, convents, training of seminarians/catechists, supporting pastoral projects, providing emergency aid to refugees and migrants, and so on.

Today, even very poor Churches and countries, take up collections to give what they can materially. The Corona pandemic must not be a barrier or cripple our response to give what we can so that as the Holy Father says, we can “meet the spiritual and material needs of peoples and churches throughout the world, for the salvation of all.” We must intensify action in the Pontifical Mission Societies (Holy Childhood, St. Peter the Apostle) and collections such as Peter’s pence and that for the Holy land on Good Friday.

The readings today were selected to remind us of our missionary commitment and to perhaps vaccinate us against complacency or indifference. While the second reading urges us to pray for all men and women, and those in leadership positions, we must pray for our priests, religious, catechists or lay missionaries who serve in the missionary fields, and who like the prophets of old, continue to give hope to people, urging them like Prophet Isaiah in the first reading, not to lift up sword against nation, or engage in war.

We are happy that our youths are not using violence as a means of putting across their message to those in political authority in the ongoing protest against police brutality. The protests are only a symptom of buried grievances and time bombs planted over decades by the failure to develop political, social and economic options in favour of the youth and the future generations. Poverty and social neglect are worse than corona virus and they can trigger very negative reactions. We however urge our youths to pursue justice in the most peaceful way, but we say to our leaders, “O that today you listen to the voice of our young people, harden not your hearts”.

In conclusion, I call on the CWO, CMO, CYON, Knights, Church wardens, Choristers, lectors, and everyone who is baptized, to play an active role in evangelization and to be able to say, “Here I am, Lord, send me.” Do not wait until you become rich, very educated, well dressed or fluent. Like our Blessed Mother, be ready to be completely at the service of God’s will (cf. Lk. 1:8).

When the priest says, “ite missa est” at the end of Mass, he simply enjoins us to “go forth” and announce the Gospel. We pray in this Mass that the Lord will renew our missionary zeal and the Spirit of the Lord will be upon us, to bring the joy of the Gospel to our families, friends and acquaintances, places of work and to the very ends of the earth.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *