19th / 20th October 2019

posted 23 Oct 2019, 05:33 by Parish Office

Homily for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

– World Mission Sunday (19 & 20/10/19)


Today we celebrate World Mission Sunday.  But what can we do to support the mission of the Church?  Maybe someone here might be called to be a missionary and spread the Gospel in far distant lands.  For the rest of us, we can help by giving to the second collection today.  But more importantly, we can also pray.


One of the difficulties we can find in prayer is the lack of results.  If you conduct a scientific experiment, by the end of the experiment you will have a set of results that you can analyse and draw conclusions from.  Praying for the mission of the Church doesn’t work in quite the same way.  You can’t get a computer printout saying exactly how your individual prayers have helped convert some people and keep others from going elsewhere.  And so, when you pray, but aren’t aware of any definite results, the temptation can be to give up, or at least to slacken off a little.


In this Sunday’s Gospel, Our Lord reminds us of the importance of perseverance in prayer.  Obviously God isn’t like the unjust judge, whom the widow was constantly begging to do his job properly.  The parable was an illustration of the fact that we, too, need to persevere in prayer, rather than just making our request once and leaving it at that.  Imagine someone who thought:  right.  It’s World Mission Sunday.  I’ll say a prayer.  “Lord, convert the whole world.  Amen.”  Job done.  Is it really enough just to say one very quick prayer, and then think you never have to pray again for that intention for the rest of your life?  When World Mission Sunday comes around next year, can you just say to yourself:  I don’t need to pray for the missions today; I did that last year?  No.  Persevere in your prayer.  Bring your intentions to God each day.  And don’t forget to thank Him for the prayers that have been answered.


Clearly, perseverance in prayer can be difficult at times, and our Gospel today ended in quite a worrying way:  “But when the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth?”  Will faith in Christ perhaps be like a kettle, that was boiled back in the first century, but by the time Our Lord returns, will have been allowed to go cold?


In the Book of Revelation, also known as the Apocalypse, the last book of the New Testament, it looks towards a future age.  In chapter 3, John is asked to write to the Church in Laodicea, which has cooled off somewhat in its devotion to Christ.  This is what he is commanded to write:  “I know your works:  you are neither cold nor hot.  Would that you were cold or hot!  So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.  For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing; not knowing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked.”  It’s sometime said that in Europe, things have moved on from the days of firm convictions, whether Christian or Atheist, being hot or cold towards the Lord.  Instead, people now don’t really care and don’t give it much thought.  Maybe God exists, maybe he doesn’t – who cares?  What difference would it make to my life?  They have become lukewarm.  And that lukewarmness can then begin to affect the Church.  Does it really matter if people become Catholics or not, just as long as they are nice people?  Well actually, it does, and that’s the reason the Church has World Mission Sunday.  If we lose our moral compass, then as long as people appear to be “nice”, they can convince us to do anything.


Sometimes, we need reminding that we are taking place in a great spiritual battle.  Not just our own journey through life, but that there is a great cosmic battle taking place between heaven and hell, between the angels and the demons over the salvation or damnation of souls.  The true enemies of the human race are not any particular human beings, or people belonging to certain categories:  it’s the evil spirits that are our true enemies, and they have launched an all-out assault against the followers of the Lord.  Thankfully we have the angels to defend us, with St Michael the Archangel as the leader in the battle.  But once again, we can’t just leave the angels to fight it alone.  We also need to pray.  In the first reading, when Moses’ arms were raised in prayer, the battle went well for the Israelites, but when they fell, the Amalekites were in the ascendancy.  Moses’ arms needed supporting.  In the battle for souls, it can’t just be left up to the Parish Priest!  It requires the whole parish to support the prayer effort.  If things in the Church begin to fail, is that not an indication that we have become lukewarm with regard to prayer?  There’s still some prayer going on, but it’s not enough to fight the present battle.


So, prayer warriors, today we celebrate Mission Sunday.  What are we going to do?  I say:  let us pray!