Sunday, October 19, 2014

Mission Sunday

In the Catholic World, today is Mission Sunday. The  Peace Weekly carried an article on the 'Francis Effect' after the visit of Pope Francis to Korea.The religious figures who have the most influence on Korean society,according to a recent survey, are Cardinal Yeom, deceased Cardinal Kim in number two spot, and number fourth was Cardinal Cheong. Pope Francis' visit to Korea has noticeably nourished the Church.

One of the signs that many have noticed is the increase in the number of those attending Sunday Mass. Catechumens  attending  classes at the Cathedral parish in Seoul in the month of September have increased twofold.

The Cathedral parish in 2004, in one year's time, had 771 baptized, after the death of John Paul II the number increased to 951, and in in 2006, 1351 were baptized. After the death of Cardinal  Kim there was another jump and now it has leveled off at about 1100 a year and this is expected to rise again after the  pope's visit.

The number of those tepid, and want to return to the community have also shown an increase, and this is  true for the whole country. There are reports from parishes that  the lines for the confessional are longer and the numbers returning to the Church have increased.

There is also an increase of interest in the work of  evangelization. "Let us call upon him today, firmly rooted in prayer, for without prayer all our activity risks being fruitless and our message empty. Jesus wants evangelizers who proclaim the good news not only with words, but above all by a life transfigured by God’s presence (Joy of the Gospel # 259). In the pope's exhortation we have five steps for evangelization that the article outlines.

First, a need to pray. Secondly, confidence and zeal, without conviction and love  little can be done. Thirdly, we have to be concerned for the good of the other.Fourthly, begin with the marginalized and the poor. Fifthly, do all with joy.

In today's Gospel we heard what Jesus told the first community of believers. He wanted them to go and make disciples of all nations, and teach them what he has commanded. He would remain with them until the end. The mission is not only to gain heaven after death but to enjoy the gift of life that God has given us now. Jesus is the  way the truth and life and he wants us to enjoy this gift now and for all eternity.

One of the Korean proverbs expresses a feeling about the life here on earth very graphically: "Even if I have to roll in the field filled with dog excrement this earthly life is good." We who are Christians are able to say this with much more meaning. Life is not fair for many. There are many difficulties, problems and crosses that make up this life, it is not a level  playing field, but with a correct attitude and the trust that God is always walking with us the obstacles add to our glory.

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