20th/21st October 2018

posted 29 Oct 2018, 04:41 by Parish Office

Homily for the Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B –

World Mission Sunday (20 & 21/10/18)


World Mission Sunday – for some people, the word “mission” conjures up images from the film The Mission, where the Jesuits bring the Catholic faith to natives in South America.  For others, they might have images of new Churches being built and converts being made in parts of deepest Africa.  For others, the thought might be that mission begins at home.  The week before I was ordained, I attended the ordination of two people from my year who were being ordained for East Anglia diocese, and at the offertory, after they had  been ordained as priests, the organist played the theme tune to the film, The Mission.  They had been ordained, and now the mission begins.  Pope Francis says that the Gospel needs to be brought to all the peripheries, the edges of society – that can include parts of the world without running water, mobile phone reception or e-mails, and it can also include the places that have all those three, where people are indifferent or even hostile to the faith, in other words, right on our doorsteps.


The Church is going through something of a hard time at the moment, when the sins of some of her members, even those in high positions, have shocked many.  People who have worked so hard in spreading the Gospel are finding their credibility undermined by the sins of others in the Church, those who have used their positions as ministers of the Gospel to betray the very Gospel they were sent to preach, and instead to pursue their own sinful desires.  Instead of wanting to serve others, they have served themselves.  And everyone suffers for it.


In today’s Gospel, James and John wanted to sit and Christ’s left and right in His glory.  Surely, we could say, if there’s anyone who should sit at Christ’s left and right then it should be Our Lady and St Peter.  Why should James and John push them out of the way?  To choose to follow Christ is to choose the path of suffering; James and John were probably more concerned about looking for glory instead.  Each generation has its challenges, but as the saying goes, no cross, no crown – Christians are called to a different type of leadership, which involves being a servant, not a cruel master who makes his authority felt.


Are things much better in wider society?  We only know about the situation in which we live and the things other people tell us.  I remember some years ago, someone saying to me that a particular company had been ruined because those in management had appointed their favourites as fellow managers, rather than those who were best suited for the job.  As a result, they went on to make bad decisions and ruined the business.


St Paul writes, in his Second Letter to Timothy, “We may be unfaithful, but he is always faithful” (2:13).  When Pope Benedict announced that he was retiring as Pope, he said, “let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ”.  Despite all the things that may happen in the Church, we have to remember that it is Christ’s Church, not a business set up by human beings.  The Church has always had both saints and sinners making up her membership.  The Holy Spirit has always been there to guide the Church, and to lead her to renewal.  It has been said that the Church undergoes a major crisis every 500 years.  The first crisis was about who Christ is.  The second crisis around the year 1000 was about the authority of the Pope, leading to the schism between Christianity in the East and West.  The third crisis around 1500 was about the nature of the Church, the Body of Christ – the so-called reformers saw there were moral problems, and instead decided to reform the faith.  Today, 500 years on, we have a problem of morals again.  We need to convert the world to Christ – but instead we see the Church being converted to the ways of the world.  As people of God, we need to be seen to be offering the world something different and better than what they have already got.  Nothing so masks the face of God as distorted religion.  It is time to remove the masks from our faces and to show the real face of Christ to the world.  It is time for us to do violence to ourselves, to undergo the rugged path of the Cross, to work on ourselves that we may more fully reflect the glory of Christ.  Our Lord said in St John’s Gospel, “for their sake I consecrate myself so that they too may be consecrated in truth”.  If the Church is to be renewed and the Gospel to be spread, we need first to work on our own conversion.  But if we try and do it by ourselves, we will fail.  We need God’s help.  And as I mentioned last week, consecrating ourselves to Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart is part of the solution.  If we give her greater freedom to act, then she will set to work.  We want to convert the peripheries of our world.  But first we need to ask Our Lady to pray that we may be able to convert the peripheries of our hearts.  And only then will our witness be more credible and more people be drawn to the faith.


In conclusion – our world needs Christ.  He can renew the Church and our world – but only if we let Him.