Today over one billion Catholics all over the world observe World Mission Sunday. This annual observance was instituted 93 years ago in 1926 by a Papal decree issued by Pope Pius XI. Every year since then, the universal Church has dedicated the month of October to reflection on and prayer for the missions. On World Mission Sunday, Catholics gather to celebrate the Eucharist and to contribute to a collection for the work of evangelization around the world. This annual celebration gives us a chance to reflect upon the importance of mission work for the life of the Church. It reminds us that we are one with the Church around the world and that we are all committed to carrying on the mission of Christ, however different our situations may be. World Mission Sunday messages stressed the importance of Christian charity in action as the keynote of evangelization.
Pope Francis writes in his 2019 World Mission Day message, Baptized and Sent. “This missionary mandate touches us personally: I am a mission, always; you are a mission, always; every baptized man and woman is a mission.” The Holy Father calls on all Catholics and the Church to revive missionary awareness and commitment.
In today’s First Reading, God demonstrated to the Israelites that he was the one in charge of their lives, history and circumstances. Of course, their success depended totally upon him. Moses, the great prophet and intercessor, did what he knew how to do best, raised his arm in an unceasing prayer of intercession to God for his people. Through his action and intercession, he gave credence to this popular saying that: “Prayer is the master key to success and the only way to unlock heavens.”
As long as Moses’ hands were lifted up to God in prayer, the Israelite soldiers were victorious in battle. This Reading reminds us that our victory in life depends much upon God. It also reminds us that the solution to our daily battles and struggles have both a spiritual and the physical dimension.
If we neglect God in our daily struggles, while trusting only in the arm of our flesh, we might not make it. So, all we need to do is to be steadfast in prayer. In other words, prayer and action go hand in hand for a better result. In all circumstances of life, we must constantly abide in God’s presence with our minds and hearts lifted up to him in prayer. Like Moses and the psalmist, if we continuously lift up our hands and eyes to God in prayer: “Our help will definitely come from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” This is because he never fails us.
In today’s Second Reading, Paul reminds us of the importance of the scriptures in our Christian journey of faith. As an inspired Word of God, the scriptures must be the guiding principles of our daily life and action, and of course, our prayer life. If we must remain faithful to God in continuous prayer, we must also learn to meditate upon his word.
In light of today’s general theme, Lectio Divina, (the prayerful and meditative reading of the Word of God), becomes very important. We must pray with His Word and let it illumine our minds. This is because, through constant and prayerful study of the inspired Word of God, we find the much needed faith to persevere in prayer in the presence of God.
Hence, we need faith and prayer in order to continue good works: “action not words”. We need faith in order to remain steadfast during difficult moments in life. We need faith to remember that the mystery of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist we receive is our strength in the midst of our life storms. We need faith to remember that we are not alone – that God is with us always, and to never allow fear of the unknown to overcome us. We need more faith through prayer in order to trust in God’s will and judgement.
With today’s Gospel, Jesus further underscores the importance of continuous prayer. Luke writes: “He told his disciples a parable about the need to pray continually.” Through this parable, Jesus teaches us to be consistent and persevere with prayer at all times. Of course, having being a man of prayer himself, Christ knew how important prayer was for his disciples. It will be the key to their success in their mission.
The same goes for all of us Christians. If we must have any success, we must make prayer the foundation of our Christian life. It is an indispensable tool which every Christian needs for success. The prayer in question here is never to give up and to draw strength from the Word of God.
We must never tire of praying because God is never tired of listening to us. He might take time to open the door like the judge in today’s parable. However, if we do not quit, if we do not give up, he will surely hear, and answer us.
Finally, on this Mission Sunday, let us learn to appreciate our missionary obligation and support the Church’s missionary activities by leading transparent Christian lives, by fervent prayers, and by generous donations.
Fr Jude CSSp