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Saturday, December 3, 2011

St Francis Xavier

"The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest." Mt 9:8

Although the church has been proclaiming loudly for the last fifty years that every Christian must be a missionary, the message has been slow to find acceptance at the core of the Catholic community's faith life.  Too many of us, educated in faith before the Second Vatican Council, reserve the word missionary to those who like St Francis Xavier in the 16th century leave their homeland, cultures and families and travel around the world announcing the Good News of Jesus Christ.  While it is good to honor those women and men who have given their lives to cross cultural and overseas mission, the word mission simply means sent, and we are all sent at Baptism when we are reminded of Jesus' command to, "Go and make disciples of all nations." (Mt 28:19)

At the end of every mass, when the priest or deacon echoes the words of Jesus, saying "Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord," it does not merely mean that mass is over and we ought to rush for our cars or the religious ed program or the nearest diner for breakfast.  Rather, it challenges us, having been renewed in our faith by sharing God's word and Eucharist, to bring the Good News to those who have never heard it, forgotten it or rejected it. Further, we are to do this without fear relying on the Lord to give us the words and personality that allow others to know that God has come to set us free from sin and self absorption so that together we can be the body of Christ on earth. Being a missionary means not only that we speak the gospel with words, we must become good news by the choices we make about lifestyle, work and the place of prayer in our lives.

Today, ask to be sent as you are to those who have never heard the gospel.

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