October seems to be one of the most active months in the Church’s year, apart from the liturgical seasons of Lent, Easter, Advent and Christmas. As I have previously written, this is the month of the Rosary, in addition to being Respect Life Month. This Sunday, we add another important annual celebration – World Mission Sunday. It is worth sharing a portion of the letter that Bishop Paprocki wrote for our celebration this year:
World Mission Sunday joins all Catholics of the world into one community of faith. At Mass that Sunday, we recommit ourselves to our common vocation, through Baptism to be missionaries, through prayer, participation in the Eucharist, and by giving generously to the collection for the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.
Pope Francis’s message for World Mission Sunday this year reflects on the theme: “We cannot but speak about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). He reminds us that, “as Christians, we cannot keep the Lord to ourselves,” as we “recall with gratitude all those men and women who by their testimony of life help us to renew our baptismal commitment to be generous and joyful apostles of the Gospel.”
Think of what our lives would be like if we did not have people who were willing to teach us and witness to our Catholic faith? We would be overwhelmed with all the wordly values and would be missing out on so many blessings that give meaning to our lives and true hope for our future. But thanks be to God, there have been people, many people, who have been like those first disciples and felt the obligation and opportunity to share the Good News with us as missionaries.
Perhaps on this World Mission Sunday, we can spend some time in prayer, calling to mind those missionaries who have been instruments of our receiving the faith. For me, I recall my mother in a special way, who taught me how to pray, and who made sure I was able to learn about my faith and to practice it by going to Mass. I know that she had this passed on from her mother and father, who likely received it from their parents as well. I think of the priests who served at my parish growing up. I think of my brother priests with whom I share the privilege of being a missionary sent to proclaim the Good News, how so many of them, by their word and example, have been a powerful witness to me. I also think of many of you who have shown me the love of God through the witness of your lives as disciples of Jesus.
Who are those missionaries in your life that have brought you to where you are now in your relationship with Christ? Bring them to the Lord and ask Him to bless them for their generosity in sharing this most beautiful gift with you. Then I invite you to ask the Lord for the grace to be willing to continue the chain, passing on this Good News to those you encounter in those places to which the Lord has sent you as a missionary – your families, your workplaces, this parish, and the community around you.