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DATE: October 2, 2016 (27th Sunday in Ordinary Time)
THEME: Missio ad Gentes as an Immense Work of Mercy
READINGS: Hb 1:2-3; 2:2-4 / Ps 95:1-2.6-7.8-9 / 2Tim 1:6-8.13-14 / Lk 17:5-10
REFLECTION BY: Jonathan Germinanda

The life and person of Jesus Christ, who is the perfect expression of the Father’s mercy to his people, became the core message that the apostles and the first disciples in the early Christian community proclaimed; they were faithful to the divine mandate of Christ: “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19). This mandate given by Christ to his apostles has been from the beginning of the Church the motivation and reason of all her missionary activities. The Church spread out and expanded throughout the world, because women and men, whether individually or in communities, endeavored to carry out this task in the face of various situations and conditions. Faced with the challenges at hand, they proclaimed the message of Christ; they labored so that the Gospel would eventually form the people and culture they encountered as disciples of Christ. How was this task of mission carried out?
Witness of Life and Works of Charity. The genuine witness of the Christian life was what gave authenticity and effectiveness to the proclamation of the Gospel message of salvation. The uniqueness of the Christian community was made visible in how they lived among themselves (Acts 2:42-47). The examples of individual men and women were beacons of light that helped spread the Christian faith. The strong bond of communion enabled them to imitate the works and deeds of our Lord, especially for those most in need, such as deeds of charity for the poor and neglected, forgiveness and acceptance for sinners, healing and caring for the sick and the weak, etc. The spread of the Gospel throughout the centuries has been accompanied by the witness of these works of charity for all peoples.
In his message for World Mission Sunday in this Year of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, Pope Francis invites us all to reflect upon the Church’s missionary activities as manifestations of God’s great mercy. Looking at the present situation and challenges to the mission of the Church to spread God’s message of salvation, we realize that there is still much to be done in proclaiming Christ to all nations. “The mission ad gentes is still in its infancy” as Saint John Paul II said in his encyclical letter Redemptoris Missio (40). This is still the greatest challenge in terms of the missionary activity of the Church.
People now, more than ever, are in great need of these acts of love and charity to which we Christians are called to witness. The value of Christian witness remains true and perhaps even more necessary today in the midst of a modern and secularized society plagued by war and conflict, amidst the continued violence in the world today brought about by the many tensions among peoples of diverse cultures, religions, and economic, social and political backgrounds. Confronted with the suffering and pain of so many people, we are called to become ourselves agents of these works of charity, proclaiming the mercy and love of God through our deeds and the witness of our Christian lives.
The words of Pope Francis challenge us: “I am a mission on this earth; that is the reason why I am here in this world. We have to regard ourselves as sealed, even branded, by this mission of bringing light, blessing, enlivening, raising up, healing and freeing” (Evangelii Gaudium 273).

Father Jonathan Germinanda, MSP, is Rector of the Mission Society of the Philippines Seminary in Tagaytay City.


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