MISSION SUNDAY; THIRTIETH SUNDAY, YEAR B, OCTOBER 24, 2021. HOMILY AT ALL SAINTS PARISH, DUTSE ALHAJI, BY Archbishop Ignatius A. Kaigama
Readings: Is. 56: 1-6; Ps. 96: 2-3, 7-10; Rm. 10: 9-18; Mk. 16: 15-20
St. Paul poses two fundamental questions in the second reading today: “how can they hear without a preacher? And how can men preach unless they are sent?” (Rm. 10:14-15). The first reading from Prophet Isaiah announces God’s universal plan of salvation for us all, while in the Gospel, Jesus commands His disciples to “go into the world and preach the Gospel” (Mk. 16:15). This must be the mission and focus for every baptized person – to preach the good news about Jesus Christ, not about us. This is also what the response to the psalm enjoins us to do: “tell of the Lord’s wonders among all the peoples.”
According to the Holy Father, Pope Francis, we must launch ourselves into the deep in order to fulfill the mandate we have received from Jesus to go into the world and evangelize all people. Our gift of faith cannot be considered as a private privilege but as a gift to be shared with those who have not yet received it.
Since the decree of Pope Pius XI in 1926, the Church has celebrated Mission Sunday and also dedicated the month of October to prayerful reflection and giving material support for missionary work. This year, being the 95th celebration, the over 1.3 billion Catholics in the world reflect on the importance of missionary work in the Church and for the society.
What is the content of the preaching today of those who have been called and sent to evangelize? The Pope’s Message for this year’s Mission Sunday describes the current situation in the world in which the Church has been called and sent to evangelize: “The pandemic has brought to the fore and amplified the pain, the solitude, the poverty and the injustices experienced by so many people. It has unmasked our false sense of security and revealed the brokenness and polarization gradually growing in our midst…. There is a temptation to disguise and justify indifference and apathy in the name of healthy social distancing. Hence, there is urgent need for the mission of compassion, which can turn that necessary distancing into an opportunity for encounter, care and promotion.”
Our celebration of Mission Sunday challenges us to be good news through good conduct, discipline, hard work, respect for human life and truth, instead of the bad news of insecurity and the destruction of lives and property; to bring back to the fold those who have gone astray or are now simply lukewarm about God and religion in general. It is not enough to say we are practising Christians, or just watch as things happen in the Church without being actively involved. The theme of the Holy Father’s message for this World Mission Day says, ‘We cannot but speak about what we have seen and heard’ (Acts 4:20). Once we experience the power of God’s love we cannot help but proclaim, live out and share what we have seen and heard.
Today, more than ever before, the world is in urgent need of messengers and agents of hope and compassion for impoverished areas which need infrastructure such as schools, churches, hospitals, orphanages, dispensaries, etc. We are missionaries when we pray and contribute to the work of mission; and we must be ‘missionary disciples’ of Jesus Christ “in a world held bound by hate and injustice and blinded by the darkness of sin and error”. The Pope urges us to turn societal challenges, conflicts and difficulties into opportunities for mission. We must not be blind to the plight of the poor and needy around us and so, we must be missionaries of social justice, equity and fairness; in order to build a well ordered society.
Let this Mission Sunday motivate us to renew our baptismal commitment to mission; to pray for all those who are working as missionaries, especially in difficult mission areas. The funds raised all over the catholic world will be sent to the Vatican and redistributed to support evangelization, social and pastoral programmes in different parts of the world. We encourage Catholics to support this mission of the Church and not to hold back what we can offer materially for the sake of others. I often tell Catholics and non-Catholics who say the “Catholic Church is very rich” or “the Pope sends money to all Catholic Bishops” that the Catholic Church is blessed with spiritual, pastoral and human resources because generous people like you contribute to the collections such as Mission Sunday, Peter’s pence, St. Peter the Apostle, Holy Childhood, Holy Land collection, etc., to support the Pope in his universal mission. Thank you for your generosity. Please, keep it up. I wish to also remind you of my appeal for most of the 51 new pastoral areas in our Archdiocese that took off without church land, priests’ houses and church buildings.
We look forward to the celebration on the 6th of November of the 40th anniversary of the foundation of the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Abuja, which started as a Missio Sui Iuris, became a Diocese and now is an Archdiocese. Among the preparatory events for the celebration are diaconate and priestly ordinations, prayers and Masses in parishes, meeting of married couples, sports among the youths, etc. On that day too, with the entire Archdiocese assembled, we shall formally inaugurate our Archdiocesan phase of the pre-synodal process, having just concluded our Archdiocesan General Assembly, which in a sense, was a synodal exercise.
Dear parishioners of All Saints Parish Dutse Alhaji, together with your Parish Priest, Rev Fr. Anthony Isonguyo, his assistant, Rev Fr. Dominic Nwaiwu, the candidates for confirmation, the catechists and members of different Church organizations, I urge all of you to join Catholics world-wide to be missionaries working to spread the love of Christ.