Only a few weeks ago, we all listened to the reports of the devastation and suffering caused by hurricane Ian, particularly in Florida. Personally, I still vividly remember that in late September 2009 the Philippines suffered a “double-hit” of two back-to-back typhoons. Typhoon Ondoy dumped the equivalent of over one month’s rainfall on Manila and the surrounding areas in less than 24 hours. The situation was urgent.
Solidarity in Suffering. Many people manifested their solidarity and compassion during these tragic events in Florida and Manila. I remember Muelmar Magallanes, the 18-year-old construction worker who saved the lives of 30 people in Manila during the height of the storm. After he had moved his own family to higher ground, he went back to do the same for some 30 others. A strong swimmer, Muelmar’s last rescue mission was a 6-month-old baby and mother. He then succumbed to fatigue and the strong currents carried him away. Time magazine named him one of the top ten heroes of the year.
Missionary Urgency. The Church asks all of us to frequently reflect on the urgency of mission. This theme dominates Saint Paul’s second letter to Timothy, today’s second reading. Paul exhorts Timothy with the strongest of words: “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus … proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.”
Profound Insights. In his mission encyclical Redemptoris Missio, Saint Pope John Paul II reflects on “missionary urgency.” Listen to his words: “Mission is an issue of faith, an accurate indicator of our faith in Christ and his love for us” (RM 11). The pope goes on to say that “in the Church’s history, missionary drive has always been a sign of vitality, just as its lessening is a sign of a crisis of faith” (RM 2). And again, “The Lord is always calling us to come out of ourselves and to share with others the goods we possess, starting with the most precious gift of all—our faith” (RM 49).
John Paul II is asserting that mission will only flourish if it is built upon “our faith in Christ and his love for us.” Only when we are deeply convinced of Christ’s personal love for us, will we be energized to tell others the good news. A sense of the urgency of mission emerges from an awareness of God’s profound love.
Personal Commitment. To meet the urgent needs caused by natural disasters, all try to do their share; the same principle holds true for spreading the Good News of Jesus. It is an urgent imperative; all are called to serve the Church’s mission; some are even invited to give heroic service. Remember Muelmar Magallanes; he gave his life in service. So did Jesus on the cross. You and I need to ask: How deep is my faith? Is mission urgent for me?
James H. Kroeger, M.M.
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lord, who always hear the cry of the poor
and that all be saved by your truth
may I recognize my neighbor in need
and acknowledge that I may be the answer
to their prayers.
I confess I feel overwhelmed and helpless
in the face of tragedy and suffering.
Let me not refuse to do anything
out of fear I can do nothing
but let my efforts and offerings
no matter how small, by your grace
be multiplied to feed the multitudes.
Accept, then, my Lord and God, my gifts
of time, talents, and prayers as but
the first fruits of my faith in you.
Together with brothers and sisters of faith
may we answer your urgent call to help
that the world may be healed, fed and freed
to build your kingdom here on earth.
By Fr. Joseph Veneroso. M.M.