“You Shall be my Witnesses”

On Mission Sunday every year our immediate thoughts are of the numerous Irish missionaries, priests, religious sisters and brothers, and lay missionaries of the past as well as those many who still give their lives’ work in the pursuit of mission activity globally.

The foreign mission-field where local resources and infrastructures are poor or absent is often the rich soil in which faith is planted and will grow. It is a soil without the impurities that abound in more affluent societies and where Faith is often weakened as a result.

The outreach of Missionary effort to poorer societies often results in a Church being established that is closer to the ideals of the Church as proposed by Christ’s message of Good News.  These poorer societies because they start with little seem to have an advantage of growing strong and becoming an authentic Church of Christ.

We, in a society where the Message of Good News is dimmed by the trappings of power, control and even politics are challenged to be true to Christ’s message in an authentic way. We can look to the foreign mission-fields and see there a simpler Church and learn the lesson which is difficult to take on board: that we are called to a simplicity and purity of intention and that our Church on earth should be modelled solely on Christ’s teachings.

On this Mission Sunday, we turn our thoughts to the Home Mission. The Synod of the Church called by Pope Francis is a local home mission activity.  Pope Francis has used the term Mission in relation to the Christian family by describing it as today’s mission field and saying of it, “if we erode the family we fatally weaken the bonds of belonging on which we all depend”.

On the Home Mission front are many other areas of concern. Home Mission breaks down into the moments of our own lives where we are at, who we are with, what we say and above all what we do.

I have mentioned the Mission to family, but there is also our mission and commitment to our work and the integrity we bring to it by respecting our fellow employees, our employer and the old but true adage of a just wage for an honest day’s work.

The home mission field of relationship and my respect for significant others in my life that ranges from respect for parents and siblings to a loving respect for a partner, husband or wife.

Then there is the complex mission facing us today as we seek to unravel modern life lived remotely and through the lens of technology and social media. A mission field that takes us out foreign without ever having to leave our room. Does this contradictory apparent engagement with the global village make us unaware of the village or the people on the street outside my very door?

Then there is the call of the home mission to justice in our society for all people of all races, creeds and no creeds. The home Mission may involve tackling latent racism in our own lives.

Then there is no more urgent Home Mission facing us at this moment in our country and that is the ongoing effort to fight Covid-19 and curb its spread. This is the mission field of hard reality: where restrictions have been eased or lifted, most things have returned to ‘normal’ but society is still very fragile and vulnerable due to the ongoing presence of the virus. We have a shared home mission to continue to practise personal responsibility and follow hygiene best practices to break the hold that Covid still continues to have in some degree on the country and our locality.

In his World Mission Sunday message for 2022 Pope Francis highlights the personal call of each of us to be witnesses to Christ.  “You shall be my witnesses“, the Holy Father recalls the bond between every missionary and Christ himself, “His faithful witness”, and remembers that the Church’s sole mission is to bear witness to Christ.

Mission Sunday is about bringing the Good News of the gospel to foreign lands, but it is equally about renewing our own sense of the Good News in our own lives. Poorer countries as I said at the outset seem more receptive to the joy of the gospel because their lives for various reasons contain little comfort or joy. We too need to rediscover this joy in our own lives. The key to doing this may be that we become Missionaries to one another in our daily lives: to look out for and be supportive of one another and to find joy in doing good for one another.

Hopefully, on this Mission Sunday our hearts will be on the home mission so that the faith we live among one another will spill over into a greater awareness for Mission and missionaries throughout the World.

Today, become a Missionary…

✠ Fintan Monahan – Bishop of Killaloe (World Mission Sunday is on 23 October 2022)

Clare Champion Article Friday 21st of October 2022