Is 45: 1. 4-6
Thus says the LORD to his anointed, Cyrus,
whose right hand I grasp,
Subduing nations before him,
stripping kings of their strength,
Opening doors before him,
leaving the gates unbarred:
For the sake of Jacob, my servant,
of Israel my chosen one,
I have called you by name,
giving you a title, though you do not know me.
I am the LORD, there is no other,
there is no God besides me.
It is I who arm you, though you do not know me,
so that all may know, from the rising of the sun
to its setting, that there is none besides me.
I am the LORD, there is no other. For the sake of Jacob, my servant, of Israel my chosen one, I have called you by name, giving you a title, though you do not know me. I am the LORD, there is no other, there is no God besides me. It is I who arm you, though you do not know me, so that all may know, from the rising of the sun to its setting, that there is none besides me. I am the LORD, there is no other.
1 Thes 1: 1-5
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: grace to you and peace. We give thanks to God always for all of you, remembering you in our prayers, unceasingly calling to mind your work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father, knowing, brothers loved by God, how you were chosen. For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the holy Spirit and [with] much conviction.
Mt 22: 15-21
Then the Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech. They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. And you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion, for you do not regard a person’s status. Tell us, then, what is your opinion: Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?” Knowing their malice, Jesus said, “Why are you testing me, you hypocrites? Show me the coin that pays the census tax.” Then they handed him the Roman coin. He said to them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?” They replied, “Caesar’s.”* At that he said to them, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”
Mission Sunday is an occasion for the Catholic Church to call the attention of all the faithful to the Church’s activities in the mission lands, meaning, in places where the local Churches are not yet viable in terms of personnel and finances. For this reason, the collection done today in all churches all over the world will be pooled together and sent to an office in Rome that oversees the missionary activity of the whole Church. This office has existed for some time already. Due to its experience and global network we are assured that any financial help will go to where it is really needed.
But more than the material help that we could extend, the Church would also like to remind us of our responsibility to share our faith with people we brush shoulders with everyday. Allow me to share an experience that I personally know of an Overseas Contract Worker in Rome. She is a very simple 40-yearold Filipina. For the past 8 years she has been working with an Italian couple who were born Catholics but do not practice their religion. Her main job is to be a “nanay” to an only daughter of the said couple. She took care of that baby girl since she was born. So, you can imagine that the girl felt closer to her than to her working mother. So that they would not have to take care of their baby during the weekends when the Filipina help went for her free day and for Sunday mass, the parents allowed her to bring the baby along. At 6 years of age, the girl asked her parents to join them for Sunday mass. After initial refusal, perhaps out of embarrassment, they acceeded to the invitation. Today, this couple together with their daughter don’t miss Sunday mass in one of the churches in Rome where a Filipino community meet every Sunday.
That Filipina was faithful to her Sunday mass as an expression of her very simple faith in God. She told me that this was her way of thanking God for the fact that with her work in Italy, she could send her younger brothers and sisters to school, buy maintenance medicines for her old parents and had their house remodeled.
God, through her, was able to touch the heart of that Italian couple who did not practice their faith. This is how God behaves. He does not intervene straight from heaven to touch the hearts of people. God uses the instrumentality of a man/woman, who practices his/her faith, to reach out to people whom he wants to touch with His grace. The challenge that the feast of Mission Sunday poses to us today is the responsibility to truly live our faith so that God can use us to touch the hearts of our children, people we work with in the offices, in schools, in the marketplaces, our neighbors in the subdivisions or wherever we live. God needs us so that he can touch the heart of whomever he wants.
A story is told about a small boy in a ghetto. This boy was teased by his friends who said: If God loves you, why does he not take care of you? Why does God not tell someone to bring you shoes and a warm coat and better food?” The small boy thought for a moment and with tears in his eyes said: I guess God does tell somebody, but that somebody forgets. Shall we also forget?
– Fr. Magdaleno Fabiosa, SVD (VCR, CKMS,QC)