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Where have you Christians been?

 

BY FR. BEL R. SAN LUIS, SVD

 

wrd word alive bel san luis

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?”

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

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Whereupon the priest started to teach 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 2,000 years since Christ commanded his followers to spread his teachings? Why, where have you Christians been all this time?”

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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).

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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.’”

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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

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LAUGH WITH GOD. A parish priest was making an impassioned appeal to the parish council for the annual mission collection. Everybody was surprised when the wealthiest but tight-fisted member of the council rose and offered to start the collection rolling with a contribution of R500.

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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!)

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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 constraint especially this time of the COVID-19 crisis.

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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.

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

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