“ It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord … shall be raised above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it.” (Isaiah 2:2)
Today is World Mission Sunday; it is a day the Church has set aside to reflect deeply on the mandate of Christ: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20).
When we say the Church is missionary by nature, we mean it exists to “make disciples of all nations.” When we say the Church is missionary by nature, we mean that as members of the Church, everything we do is part of this process of making disciples. In other words, we are either letting our light shine or further increasing the darkness of sin and evil in our world.
An example of darkness in our world today is police brutality, extortion, oppression and corruption which has triggered protests by youths in cities across Nigeria. What began as protests against the unwholesome attitude of uniform men has now become protests against the very system that has produced them. These ongoing protests are longer about the police but about a government whose budget for health and education put together is less than its budget for the salaries of senators and representatives.
The fact that there seems to be no end in sight to these protests is a very strong message to both our leaders and the international community that we have taken too much for too long and are ready to do whatever it takes for real positive change. It is within this context that our celebration of World Mission Sunday today comes to play. How are we to fulfil our missionary mandate as Christians in a society as ours today?
1. Put an end to Insincerity, Greed, Falsehood and Theft.
The first step to evangelizing the world is becoming converted ourselves. We cannot give what we do not have. We only begin to preach by preaching to ourselves, that is to say, if we do not practice what we preach, we cannot bring anyone to God.” The fact that things have deteriorated to this state today is a big slap on every Christian in this nation. It is so hard today to find a trustworthy Christian not to mention a truly Christian politician. It seems we have turned money into our god and are ready to do just about anything for the sake of money. Even if we succeed in changing our present crop of leaders, I fear that things would remain the same if we don’t change our hearts.
2. Tap into the Power of Social Media.
Already, we have seen how social media has helped to bring together and coordinate a massive army of youth protesters. We have seen how an event that happened in a small community in Delta State filmed and shared on social media is gradually bringing about a revolution in our Nation. This should tell us that social media is not all about entertainment but a powerful tool that can stir millions to action. Know that whatever content you put on social media can either make or mar disciples for Jesus Christ.
If you are too ashamed to preach Christ on your social media handles, then you are part of the problem of this country. If you cannot shine a light, then you are part of the darkness. Stop sharing videos that portray Christianity in a bad light; by so doing, you give unbelievers reason to stay away from Christ. Do not give the devil free media publicity. Jesus says: “Go and make disciples of all nations,” not just to “go and make fans on your social media handles.” As Christians we shouldn’t just be content to have hundreds or thousands of fans, we must bring our fans to Christ by “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:20)
3. Fear Not. Dare to be Different.
In one of his messages for Mission Sunday, Pope Francis says: “Do not allow anyone to slow and obscure the light that Christ puts in your face and in your heart… the world is in need of courageous young people, who are not cowed in the face of difficulties, who face their trials and keep their eyes open to reality.” Standing up for Christ in a world so riddled with evil is never an easy thing to do. There would surely be great challenges. Jesus told us that the world would hate us; that we shall be persecuted but we must remain defiant.
In fact as Jesus says in today’s Gospel passage: “I am with you always, to the close of the age.” In another passage, Jesus tells us: “Do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear him!” (Luke 12:4-5). Know that God is with you. He is powerful enough to defend you. If you acknowledge Jesus before men, He will acknowledge you in heaven.
4. Pray for Your Leaders.
In our Second Reading today, Paul writes to Timothy saying: “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2) I have noticed how we rain curses so easily on our leaders and it surprises me that despite our many curses and insults, we still expect them to do the right thing. We must understand that without God, they are can do nothing.
Conclusion: Go Forth, the Mass is Ended.
As we celebrate World Mission Sunday today, it is important to remind ourselves of the meaning of the words we hear at the end of every Mass. “Go Forth” does not simply mean “leave the church.” It means “Go and tell everyone about Christ, go and announce the Gospel by your life, go and proclaim the Good News, go and evangelize.” Every time we attend Mass, we are sent on a mission. How beautiful would it mean if we all tell ourselves that when coming for the next Mass, we shall bring along at least one person.
Lastly, since today also happens to be the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, I think it would help to mention a few points from the readings of the day. While God reveals Himself to King Cyrus, we hear Jesus telling the Pharisees to “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” This statement of Jesus came as a response to a rather difficult question intended to entrap Jesus. It teaches us the need to be careful of those who flatter us, to always pray before we say anything and to know that our Christian identity does not exempt us from our civil obligations. There is nothing wrong with being a Christian and fully engaging in politics but you must allow God to take centre stage in our lives. After all, even Caesar himself belongs to God.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, may our hearts be on fire for God and may your peace reign in us. Amen.
Bible Study: Isaiah 2:1-5, Psalm 98, 1st Timothy 2:1-8, and Matthew 28:16-20).