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Mission Sunday, Fr. Paulus Budi Kledin, SVD

Mission Sunday Homily
of Father Budi Kleden

Dear brothers and sisters,

This Sunday is dedicated to mission. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic Pope Francis decided to celebrate this World Mission Sunday more than ever. The Pandemic does not stop the Church from being a missionary Church; instead, it bolsters more its missionary spirit. In times like these our missionary commitment is urgently needed. In this time of crisis, when many people feel discouraged, frightened and confused to talk about God and to witness to his love to the world, here we are saying: “Here am I, Lord, send me.”

As you know, this is the theme of the World Mission Sunday this year. “Here am I, Lord, send me, make use of myself to let others experience that you do not abandon us and the whole world in this time of suffering and challenges.”

In the light of the message of Pope Francis for the World Mission Day this year and his other teachings, I would like to underline the following:

  • The first: Mission originates in God and springs out from a personal relationship with Jesus, the Missionary. Mission is not first of all organizing programs and activities, but it is about relationship, a living relationship with the Lord, the missionary God. Our rootedness in God inspires, strengthens and makes us persevere in the mission.

    It is the mission of God, and we can only participate in this mission if and as long as we are connected with Him. Pope Francis reminds us: “The mission, the ‘Church on the move’, is not a program, an enterprise to be carried out by sheer force of will. It is Christ who makes the Church go out of herself. In the mission of evangelization, you move because the Holy Spirit pushes you, and carries you.” Indeed, the Holy Spirit is the principle agent of mission, as San Paul writes to the Thessalonians in the second reading today: the spreading of the Gospel is not only through our words alone, but because of the power of the Holy Spirit.

    Todays’ celebration shall encourage us to spend more time in prayer and meditation of the Word of God, as individuals and as group. In this time of the pandemic it is amazing to see how people are posting their short but profound reflection on the Word of God in the social media. Let us live and practice what we share with others.

  • The second: Mission is a realization that we are a mission. The living relationship with the Lord will make us aware that we are loved by the Him. Pope Francis writes in his message: “Human life is born of the love of God, grows in love and tends towards love. No one is excluded from the love of God.” If we say, “Here am I, Lord, send me”, this is because every one of us is loved by the Lord; we are ambassadors of the love of God. This is the very foundation of every missionary, and we all, by virtue of our baptism, are missionaries.

    One of the statements in Evangelii Gaudium that I like very much is: “I am a mission in this world; that is the reason why I am here in this world.” Yes, mission is all of us, because in us and with us, God wants to make this world a place where everybody feels accepted and respected, and where the nature is seen and treated as a common home for all. Each one of us is a unique gift God has made for Himself and to the world.

    As Jesus asks in the Gospel today, let us therefore give to the Lord what belongs to God, and dedicate ourselves to others especially the poor and the needy, in our family and neighborhood, among our friends, the poor and the needy, in our parish. “I am a mission” is not a statement to justify our arrogance or feeling of superiority. It reminds us to make use of our time and talents for the good of the humanity and the world.

    The prophet Isaiah says in the first reading today: “The Lord has called each one by name”. And Saint Paul in the second reading reminds us that we are loved and chosen by the Lord himself. Your life is precious, and precious is the life dedicated to the mission, like the life of Saint Arnold Janssen, the Founder of the Divine Word Missionaries.

  • The third: Mission means to go out of ourselves. Missionaries are not only those who leave their own countries and cultures. We consider missionaries those who follow the call to overcome egoism or racism and reach out to others, especially the last ones, regardless of their religion, nationality, or culture. In his exhortation Christus Vivit, published after the synod on the youth, Pope Francis made an inspirational encouragement. He says, for us Christians, the way to get to know who I am or to respond to the question “who am I?” is to ask ourselves: “for whom am I?”. For whom do I dedicate myself, for whom do I want to be meaningful?... this is the question for us Christians that helps us to answer who we are.

    In putting ourselves at the service of others we do not only give, but also receive, we do not only serve but also are enriched. Pope Francis is convinced, as expressed in the message for the World Mission Sunday this year, “The mission that God entrusts to each one of us leads us from fear and introspection to a renewed realization that we find ourselves precisely when we give ourselves to others.”

    Encountering others, being in dialogue with others is the way to do mission. This also means for us to fight against racism and to promote interculturality, living and working together, people of different cultures and nationalities. We need to be open to ready and learn from others, also from those who do not know and accept the Lord, because they also are chosen by the Lord, as we hear from the prophet Isaiah in the first reading today. Saint Joseph Freinademetz, one of the first SVD missionaries to be sent to China did his mission in the spirit of dialogue and respect for cultures. In the end, he was so convinced of whom to dedicate his missionary commitment. In one of his letters he wrote: "I want to be a Chinese in heaven".

Dear brothers and sisters, this is my hope and prayer, that the celebration of Mission Sunday animates you all in promoting your missionary task received from the Lord, and in making you generously say: “Here I am Lord, send me”.

Parish Saint Benedict of Norcia, Rome,
October 18, 2020