The Call to discipleship is not just for the 12 apostles but for all of us by virtue of our baptism. We have been given a great mission. The moment we walk out the door – into work, or school, or college, or wherever, we are missionaries. The moment we open the doors of our hearts, we are on a mission for Jesus Christ.
We open the door of our hearts to everyone else on planet earth by the way we live our lives…by example. St. Francis of Assisi says “Preach the Gospel; if necessary, use words.”Go. The mission continues – passed on to us by good and generous people; our parents; our grandparents freely received, freely given. The challenge is to pass on the flame of faith in our turn in our time.
And this is the key to happiness, to be about our Father’s business. Fuelled by prayer and strengthened by the Word of God, and by the Eucharist, the core and heart of the Church. We are guided in this by the Holy Father and the Bishops on this side – and by our Blessed Mother, Mary and the Saints on the other side as we go out. And when we do this, when we take up the mission of Jesus Christ we get a spring in our step and a song in our heart.
Look at the Holy Father, Pope Francis; a joyful servant of Jesus Christ. Look at Pope Emeritus Benedict, he is serene and holy supporting the church by his prayers and his study. Look at Blessed Pope John Paul II the great. He is blessing us all from the ‘window of the house of the Father.’ These popes are a trinity of missionary zeal, a power house of hope and joy for our time.
Yes! The disciple is guaranteed joy and contentment on the inside. Sure, we are not all ‘happy-clappy’ people. Real Christians know that suffering is part and parcel of our lives. And this suffering is not a waste of time. God is not blind to anyone’s suffering. Jesus Christ saved the world in agony in Gethsemane and he hung upon the cross on Calvary. And as Archbishop Fulton Sheen said, the cross is the Theatre of Redemption. I worked for a few years in Beaumont Hospital as Chaplain. Some of the widest smiles I ever laid eyes on were from people in hospital beds. They were suffering but they were selfless. And from their hospital beds, they did powerful missionary work.St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina suffered for 50 years with the stigmata – the bleeding wounds of Jesus Christ’s passion. It pained him every hour of every day of those 50 years. Not because he couldn’t cope with the bleeding or the sores. No – it was a crucifixion to him because he was the object of curiosity.
Pope John Paul II suffered great pain in his life and in his pontificate. He was shot within an inch of his life in May 1981 and one of the first things he said in his recovery in hospital was that he prays for his attacker; ‘the brother who shot me whom I have sincerely pardoned.’ John Paul II was a giant of prayer, preaching, and evangelisation. He witnessed to the gospel of life for all of his life – even when he could no longer walk, or speak.In all our families - in every community in which we live, there are people who we would call saints. And Jesus Christ says to his disciples, Go, make disciples of all nations. He is also saying, as interpreted by Pope John Paul, Pope Benedict, and now Pope Francis; Go, become saints. Sanctity is not for fourteenth century nuns or bishops. Sanctity is for all. Who knows? Someone in this church could one day be canonised saint by the Church. Hopefully all of us will. How would you feel if in years to come someone lights a candle under a statue of you? And the great saints of the church would have laughed at the thought of them being venerated too. But John Paul II is not laughing. Neither is Pope Francis. Not if you see the amount of saints they’ve canonised. It’s all about the universal call to holiness.
Jesus Christ says; “And I am with you always, yes, to the end of time.” This is the promise that the Church will never die. No matter what politician or newspaper or television company says. We have a supernatural promise that they don’t see. So, connect with Jesus Christ. Talk to him. Work for him. Tell all the people about him. By the way you live your lives.Do not ever be afraid.