I read a story of a phone call Father O’Malley received. Hello, is this Father O’Malley? Father O’Malley says, “Yes, It Is.” From the other side, “This is the IRS. Can you help us?” Father O’Malley, “Yes-I can” “Do you know a Ted Houlihan?” Father O’Malley, “Yes, I do” Is he a member of your congregation? Father O’Malley, “Yes, He is” Did he donate $10,000 to the church? Father O’Malley, “Yes, He will”
We are celebrating Extraordinary Mission Sunday. Some give to the missions by going. Some go by giving. Mission Sunday is the day to reach out beyond the needs of the local Parish and diocese to assist missionaries as they go and tell in the young churches. The theme for the Extraordinary Missionary Month is: “Baptized and Sent: The Church of Christ on Mission in the World.” Pope Francis in his recent Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium: “Missionary action is the paradigm of every work of the Church.” (EG 15)
In 2017, Pope Francis wrote a letter to call the whole Church an Extraordinary Mission month on the occasion of the hundredth anniversary of The Apostolic Letter “Maximum Illud” by Pope Benedict XV. Pope Francis wrote in his letter, “The Apostolic Letter “Maximum Illud” called for transcending national boundaries and bearing witness, with prophetic spirit and evangelical boldness, to God’s saving will through the Church’s universal mission. May the approaching centenary of that Letter serve as an incentive…(to) be open to the joyful newness of the Gospel. In these, our troubled times, rent by the tragedies of war and menaced by the baneful tendency to accentuate differences and to incite conflict, may the Good News that in Jesus forgiveness triumphs over sin, life defeats death and love conquers fear, be proclaimed to the world with renewed fervor, and instill trust and hope in everyone.”
Our baptismal call is to be a missionary. Church is missionary. St. Therese of Lisieux, also called St. Teresa of the Child Jesus or the Little Flower, is the patron saint for the missionaries. She was a spiritual master of the contemplative life. St. Therese didn’t go out to mission journey, but in her autobiography, The Story of a Soul, she reflects on the new freedom of a new joy she will enjoy in heaven. She writes, “There will be no longer any cloister and grilles and my soul will be able to fly with you into distant lands.” She didn’t go too far, but she prayed for missionaries.
This weekends First Reading from the Book of Exodus and the Gospel reading from Luke both speak about perseverance in prayer. In the battle against Amalek, the forces of Israel were winning as long as Moses held his hands up. The ancient way of praying, and the way many of us pray at times is to lift our hands up to the Lord. When Moses’ let his arms fall, Amalek succeeded. When Moses stopped praying, Amalek succeeded. He needed the help and support of Aaron and Hur to keep his arms up. He needed the support of others to persevere in prayer. Jesus tells a humorous story of an unjust judge and a persistent widow. Judge says, “While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.”
As we celebrate Mission Sunday, reading remind us that our missionary journey needs to start with prayer and perseverance in prayer. Let us pray for missionary, and share our resources. At the same time let us encourage each other to grow in our faith. Let us be a missionary!