Manila Bulletin

Where have you Chris­tians been?

- WORD ALIVE FR. BEL SAN LUIS, SVD Religion · Catholic Church · Spirituality · Christianity · Beijing · William Welch · Mission · Pope Francis · Carmelites · Mexico · Central America · United States of America · R5 · Youtube · Facebook · Thérèse of Lisieux · Divine Word Missionaries

It hap­pened in China a few years be­fore the Com­mu­nists ex­pelled the mis­sion­ar­ies. A for­eign Catholic mis­sion­ary came upon an old woman by the way­side, de­serted, cold, and hun­gry. "Why do you bother about me?" the old lady whis­pered fee­bly when the priest tried to help her as best as he could. "No­body else cares. Why should you?"

***

"God said to go out over the world and help ev­ery­one who is in need," the priest said. Pon­der­ing over the words of the priest, she said, "What a beau­ti­ful re­li­gion. Where did it come from? "

*** Where­upon the priest started to tell her about God who loves us and sent His own Son Je­sus Christ to save us.

"Your Christ," the old woman went on, "Where is He?" When the priest said He died two thou­sand years ago, she was amazed. "Do you mean to say that it has been two thou­sand years since Christ com­manded His fol­low­ers to spread His teach­ings? Why, where have you Chris­tians been all this time?"

***

This might well be the pointed ques­tion ad­dressed to us as we cel­e­brate World Mis­sion Sun­day to­day. Be­fore as­cend­ing to heaven, Je­sus com­manded His apos­tles:

"Go out into the whole world and pro­claim the Good

News to ev­ery na­tion. He who be­lieves and is bap­tized will be saved" (Mk 16:15).

* * *

Pope Fran­cis gave the Church his first apos­tolic ex­hor­ta­tion, Evan­gelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel). In it he pro­posed a pro­found mis­sion­ary re­newal of the en­tire Church.

He as­serted that we need an “evan­ge­liz­ing Church that comes out of her­self… All re­newal in the Church must have mis­sion as its goal; oth­er­wise, it falls prey to a kind of ‘ec­cle­sial in­tro­ver­sion.’”

* * *

How can we be an “evan­ge­liz­ing Church”? Ob­vi­ously, not all can go out of their coun­try to reach out to peo­ples who have not known Christ. If some heroic Chris­tians can do it as mis­sion­ar­ies, great. But for most of us, all that we can do is be mis­sion­ar­ies at home.

* * * Re­mem­ber St. Therese of the Child Je­sus? She is the univer­sal pa­troness of Catholic mis­sions yet, iron­i­cally, she never stepped out of the four walls of her Carmelite clois­ter!

She mer­ited the ti­tle be­cause of her burn­ing ob­ses­sion to save souls by of­fer­ing ev­ery lit­tle act, ev­ery bod­ily pain for the con­ver­sion of im­mor­tal souls.

* * *

When I was or­dained priest in our mis­sion­ary con­gre­ga­tion, So­ci­ety of the Divine Word (SVD), I ap­plied to work in Mex­ico, Cen­tral Amer­ica. Un­for­tu­nately I never got my wish. The farthest I've gone to is Mex­ico... Pam­panga!

* * *

That doesn’t mean, how­ever, that I am not a gen­uine mis­sion­ary. By my work in the me­dia or sup­port­ing sem­i­nar­i­ans un­der the “Adopt A Sem­i­nar­ian” schol­ar­ship pro­gram, I am a mis­sion­ary. What counts is not ge­og­ra­phy, but the mis­sion­ary spirit or at­ti­tude.

In this con­nec­tion, let’s not be mis­sion­ar­ies only on Mis­sion Sun­day. As a good Chris­tian, the mis­sion spirit should be an all-time con­tin­u­ing at­ti­tude and ac­tion.

* * *

Fur­ther, you can be mis­sion­ar­ies by means of ex­tend­ing fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance. Be gen­er­ous and share your re­sources for the sup­port of mis­sion­ar­ies.

Money is a ne­ces­sity in the work of evan­ge­liza­tion. Churches, schools, con­vents, clin­ics, so­cial cen­ters are needed, es­pe­cially in the “bush” mis­sion.

* * *

Ev­ery Chris­tian is a mis­sion­ary. Are you do­ing your share? * * *

LAUGH WITH GOD. A parish priest was mak­ing an im­pas­sioned ap­peal to the parish coun­cil for the an­nual mis­sion col­lec­tion.

Great was every­body's sur­prise when the wealth­i­est but tight-fisted mem­ber of the coun­cil rose and of­fered to start the col­lec­tion rolling with a con­tri­bu­tion of R500.

* * *

As he stood up to hand in the amount, a mild earth­quake took place and some plaster from the ceil­ing fell and hit him on the head.

A bit shaken, he with­drew the amount and said, "I guess I'd bet­ter make that R5,000." A small voice from the back was heard, "Hit him again, Lord." (It’s not known if he gave some more!)

* * *

HELP­ING MIS­SION­ARY SEM­I­NAR­I­ANS. We Filipinos are blessed be­cause there are still a good num­ber of young men who wish to be­come priests and mis­sion­ar­ies. But they have dif­fi­culty in pur­su­ing their priestly vo­ca­tion due to fi­nan­cial con­straints, es­pe­cially this time of the COVID-19 cri­sis.

* * *

Chip in or spon­sor a year’s schol­ar­ship of a sem­i­nar­ian. RE­MEM­BER: With­out sem­i­nar­i­ans, we can­not have priests and mis­sion­ar­ies.

For in­quiry, e-mail me at belsvd@gmail.com.

* * *

FAM­ILY TV MASS – is aired on 5PLUS Chan­nel 59, Cig­nal Ca­ble Ch. 6, Free TV Ch. 41 at 6-7 a.m. Sun­day, and any­time at “MCFI SVD Me­dia” Ac­count on YouTube and Face­book Page. Priest presider: FR. LOUIE PUNZALAN, SVD.

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