World Mission Sunday emphasizes our baptismal call to mission
COLLEYVILLE — Father Jonathan Wallis, expounding on the Gospel reading of Matthew 22:15-21, recalled how Jesus, alluding to Caesar’s image on a Roman coin, instructed the Pharisees to “repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”
That message, Fr. Wallis said, ties into World Mission Sunday. The vicar general celebrated Mass in collaboration between the Diocese of Fort Worth Mission Council and Good Shepherd Parish on Oct. 18 at the Colleyville church.
“When we look at ourselves, whose image is imprinted on us but God Himself?” Fr. Wallis said. “For we are made in the image and likeness of God. Therefore, we proclaim our Lord Jesus Christ as missionaries in our homes, communities, and by extension the entire world.”
Bishop Michael Olson, through an Oct. 9 letter, reminded parishioners that annually World Mission Sunday represents a “worldwide Eucharistic celebration [that] emphasizes our shared baptismal call to mission” and, through referencing the prophet Isaiah’s response of “Here I am, send me,” cited Pope Francis’ recent reminder that, “as baptized Christians, we are called personally to mission.”
The goal of mission, Fr. Wallis added, is less the work itself and more a “true encounter,” and sharing of Christ.
“We do so mindful of the fact that we are doing that which God has asked us to do,” Fr. Wallis said. “That we shine His light in the world.”
Father Brijil Lawrence, SAC, director of the Diocesan Office of Pontifical Missions, said the Diocese of Fort Worth is one of a few dioceses in America with an active mission council.
“In this regard, the diocese oversees and supports the parishes and individuals to create mission awareness through formation, mission education, and identifying one’s missionary role within the Church,” Fr. Brijil said.
A focus on mission is always important, Fr. Wallis said, but World Mission Sunday serves as a day of reflection for the faithful to focus beyond the distractions of day-to-day life.
“World Mission Sunday reminds us to examine our priorities,” Fr. Wallis said. “To make sure that which is most important to us really is most important. It’s a call to us to see that we put the Lord first, put the needs of others second, and our own needs last.
“It’s a reminder that the Church is missionary by Her nature, and we are always called to share our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. First with those closest to us, but then not to forget that we have a responsibility and camaraderie with those around the world, first and foremost through our creation by God.”
From a practical standpoint, the call to mission offers numerous opportunities.
“For me it encompasses how I live my life as a Christian and treat others,” Good Shepherd parishioner Cathy Williams said. “It’s displaying that Christian love and example to others in hopes that they too can come to know and love God.”
For parishioner Cathy Hy, mission means “living for Christ and serving Him through serving others in need.”
Parishioner Max Milan described the call to mission as fluid throughout one’s life.
“Right now, we have a 1-year-old,” Milan said. “So our mission is to raise a family and build a house of disciples as a domestic church.”
Milan’s wife, Cassie Milan, agreed.
“This obviously isn’t the best time for us to go to another country with a 1-year-old,” she said. “But we feel called to create a domestic church within our family and minister to people around us.”
Parishioner and Discipleship Coordinator Diane Kain said her mission call encompasses “living the corporal and spiritual works of mercy” and looking out for needs wherever they may be.
“Not everyone can go overseas on a mission trip,” Kain said. “But there are mission opportunities in your home, your parish, your workplace, and everywhere.
“It’s also important that it come out of your love for God. A priest one time told me, if you’re doing this without giving glory to God, it’s just social work. It’s not bringing anyone closer to Christ.”
To those eager to do their part but unsure where to begin, Fr. Brijil offered advice.
“Similar to the saying ‘charity begins at home,’ mission also begins at home,” Fr. Brijil said. This missionary spirit is carried forward to the parish, to other places, and even to the ends of the earth.
“To anyone who says, ‘I am a missionary disciple and I feel called to send forth,’ after the family, the best place to begin is the parish. Your parish may already have a mission program or council or be supporting a mission parish or school in another country.”
The call to mission, always vital, is especially so this year, Pope Francis concluded.
“In this year marked by the suffering and challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the missionary journey of the Church continues,” Pope Francis said. “This invitation from God’s merciful heart challenges both the Church and humanity, in the current world crisis.”