Pastors Note for the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Mission Sunday).
This Sunday is Mission Sunday, on this Sunday we are reminded to pray for, support, and remember the work of the Pontifical Mission Society. Upon reflection of this Sunday and the emphasis of mission, an old saying sprang into my mind, “I’m on a mission”. This saying which used to be more popular and trendier many years ago has a depth to it, it is not just a cheeky way of saying that one is busy, but a statement of urgency. It conveys a message of urgency by stating that the person has been tasked with a very important. A job which is now the singular focus of all of one’s efforts. Each one of us has been given a mission, this mission was given to us by virtue of our baptism. We are called to share the good things that have been given to us, and the greatest good that we have received is the gift of Faith.
Faith is a free gift from God to enter into an everlasting loving relationship with him. It is a gift that we must nurture through our cooperation with God’s will in our life. It is a gift that helps us to rely on God more and more, it also helps us to know that God has our best in mind at every stage of our life. Once we have experienced this great goodness that God has to offer it becomes natural for us to desire to share this gift with others. While we are unable to give this gift out to people, because it is not possible for us to bestow the gift of Faith, as it is the prerogative of the Almighty to bestow it on a person. However, we can still help to prepare the ground for this divine action. In a way our missionary efforts are like the actions of a good gardener who prepares the ground for planting. A good gardener makes sure that the environment is perfect for seeds to germinate, and this power of germination is akin to the divine imparting of the gift of Faith. We can’t force this process, but we can prepare for it, and so it is the same in our missionary life. We can invite, share, and propose a relationship with God, but we cannot force this relationship’s germination.
The encounter that Jesus has with the scribe in the Gospel this Sunday shows this preparatory process at work. Jesus and the scribe discuss the importance of loving God and which of the commands is the greatest, and the scribe tells Jesus that loving God is the first command and the second is loving one’s neighbour. At the end of the Gospel we hear Jesus telling the scribe that he is close to the Kingdom of Heaven because he answers the question with great wisdom. We witness the scribe cooperating with the gift of Faith, which prepares him to come closer in relationship with God. Each one of us is called to foster this relationship with God, just as the scribe was doing, and through this we are called into the mission of the Church to spread the love of God through our words and actions.
Fr Tony King-Archer