Sunday, October 21 – Share Your Story

21 Oct – World Mission Sunday

Isaiah 2:1-5

The vision of Isaiah son of Amoz, concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

In the days to come
the mountain of the Temple of the Lord
shall tower above the mountains
and be lifted higher than the hills.
All nations will stream to it,
peoples without number will come it it; and they will say:
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the Temple of the God of Jacob
that he may teach us his ways
so that we may walk in his paths;
since the Law will go out from Zion,
and the oracle of the Lord from Jerusalem.”

He will wield authority over the nations
and adjudicate between many peoples;
these will hammer their swords into ploughshares,
their spears into sickles.
Nation will not lift sword against nation,
there will be no more training for war.

O House of Jacob, come,
let us walk in the light of the Lord.

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Ephesians 3:2-12

You have probably heard how I have been entrusted by God with the grace he meant for you, and that it was by a revelation that I was given the knowledge of the mystery, as I have just described it very shortly. If you read my words, you will have some idea of the depts that I see in the mystery of Christ. This mystery that has now been revealed through the Spirit to his holy apostles and prophets was unknown to any men in past generations; it means that pagans now share the same inheritance, that they were parts of the same body, and that the same promise has been made to them in Christ Jesus, through the gospel. I have been made the servant of that gospel by a gift of grace from God who gave it to me by his own power. I, who am less than the least of all the saints, have been entrusted with this special grace, not only of proclaiming to the pagans the infinite treasure of Christ but also of explaining how the mystery is to be dispensed. Through all the ages, this has been kept hidden in God, the creator of everything. Why? So that the Sovereignties and Powers should learn only now, through the Church, how comprehensive God’s wisdom really is, exactly according to the plan which he had had from all eternity in Christ Jesus our Lord. This is why we are bold enough to approach God in complete confidence, through our faith in him.
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Mark 16:15-20

Jesus said to the Eleven, “Go out to the whole world, proclaim the Good News to all creation. He who believes and is baptised will saved; he who does not believe will be condemned. These are the signs that will be associated with believers; in my name they will cast out devils; they will have the gift of tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and be unharmed should they drink deadly poison; they will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover.

And so the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven; there at the right hand of God he took his place, while they, going out, preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word by the signs that accompanied it.
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Belief in someone cannot be forced. We can frighten a person into confessing that he believes, but true belief cannot be forced. Neither can true love.

In the past, the Catholic Church taught that outside the Church, there is no salvation. Christians actively went out to tell all the non-Christians they could find that unless they believed in God and were baptised, they were going to go to hell. No wonder so many people were baptised and became Christians! Who wants to go to hell? Especially the hell of fire and brimstone? But was this true belief? Did these baptised Christians have true love for God? We don’t know.

Come Vatican II (1962-1965) and the Catholic Church underwent a self-examination. Before the council, the Church was believed that it already had the full revelation of God. But through the process of the council, our bishops came to realise that the Church has been, and still is, evolving through the centuries. It is a Church in development. And we began to have “some idea of the depths” that St. Paul saw in the mystery of Christ. We came to learn that there is still so much about the person of Christ that we have not yet understood.

One of the significant documents that came from the council was that the Church is not the only way to salvation, and that God has other ways of saving souls that we don’t know of. Hence came a radical change in the way the Catholic Church spread the gospel. Where before it was, “Believe or be condemned to hell” (where’s the Good News?), now Catholics are encouraged to learn from other religions, and not go all out to convert them. What a change!

One thing, however, remains constant in the Church ever since the time of the early Christians. The thing that remains constant is the way the Good News is spread. Not by “Believe or be condemned to hell”, for that doesn’t inspire true belief, but really sharing our faith story with others. We share who Jesus is to us, what he has done for us, and what he continues to do for us. And we invite others to come to get to know this person of Jesus.

It becomes clear that unless we ourselves know who Jesus is to us, what he has done for us, and what he continues to do for us, we will not be able to share this with others. Perhaps this is the reason why we are not doing all that we can to spread the gospel – because while we may be Christians, we are still clueless about what’s so good about the Good News!

Unless Jesus is a highly important person in our lives, and is someone very real to us, we will not be able to truly share our faith with anyone. It is good to know our faith well, but not necessary for spreading the gospel. What is absolutely necessary is that Jesus is important to us and that we know how he is important to us. Otherwise, no amount of knowledge of the Catholic faith can inspire a non-Christian to come and truly believe in Jesus, and to love him.

We cannot share with others what we ourselves do not have.
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Prayer:
Dear Lord, please reveal to us today who you are in our lives, what you have done, and what you continue to do. Help us to be aware of this, and to share our story with others. Amen.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: Being a real person.

Upcoming Readings:
Mon, 22 Oct – Romans 4:20-25; Luke 12:13-21
Tue, 23 Oct – Romans 5:12, 15b, 17-19, 20b-21; Luke 12:35-38; Memorial for St. John of Capistrano, priest
Wed, 24 Oct – Romans 6:12-18; Luke 12:39-48; Memorial for St. Anthony Mary Claret, bishop
Thu, 25 Oct – Romans 6:19-23; Luke 12:49-53
Fri, 26 Oct – Romans 7:18-25a; Luke 12:54-59
Sat, 27 Oct – Romans 8:1-11; Luke 13:1-9
Sun, 28 Oct – Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18; 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18; Luke 18:9-14; Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Disclaimer: The reflections expressed in this e-mail are the writer’s own. They may not necessarily reflect the teachings of the Catholic Church. Nonetheless we should all be able to learn something from it.

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