Today is World Mission Sunday.
It should be the Day meant to define and shape every single day of our life as disciples of Jesus Christ, because he has entrusted us with the spreading of the Good News, the most astonishing and hope-filled message ever revealed by our heavenly Father.
Today’s 1st reading offers us “a teaser,” of that Good News that should keep us charged up around the clock and “dying” to share it with others.
“They departed in tears, but I will console them and guide them; I will lead them to brooks of water, on a level road, so that none shall stumble. For I am a father to Israel, Ephraim is my first-born.” Jeremiah 31:9
As the most loving Father that He is, the Lord is fully and constantly aware of the tears that we shed and of those shed by any of His children the world over.
Reflecting on the Father’s desire to save all of His children and filled them with joy, The Vatican II Council states that the pilgrim Church is missionary by her very nature. (Ad Gentes, 2)
Every World Mission Sunday, therefore, reminds us that, as members of the Church, we are “missionary” by our very nature. It is in our spiritual DNA.
Our heavenly Father, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth,(1 Timothy 2:4) counts on our direct involvement for this to happen.
However, in all frankness, can we claim before the Lord that we are acting as effective messengers of the Good News?
Today’s gospel passage (Mark 10:46-52) can help us place ourselves in one of the following three groups: a) Jesus’ disciples, b) a sizable crowd, c) Bartimaeus.
The setting offered to our consideration by Mark is applicable to any situation and any condition in the lives of people, such as us, truly blessed, privileged and, hopefully, deeply affected by Jesus’ presence.
Stretched out leisurely in a luxuriant valley, from the world’s perspective, Jericho is a dream place to live in.
Jerusalem, on the other hand, is the place in which all the prophets of old met with a violent death.
No sensible worldly person would dream of leaving Jericho and travel the rugged, uphill, winding, narrow, dangerous road leading to Jerusalem.
Irrefutably, our life should already be profoundly affected by the presence of Jesus.
But is it? And if it is; how deeply is it affected by his presence? To the point of making us enthusiastically motivated and ready to follow him to “Jerusalem?”
It would be embarrassing if, as disciples of Jesus chosen after his passion, death and resurrection, all having taken place in Jerusalem, 2000 years earlier, we could still try to be part of the sizeable crowd of bystanders who are in Jericho only to see the famous rabbi from Nazareth, to be amazed by his performance, to be entertained…
Clearly, the only one who is well-disposed to be a missionary is Bartimaeus.
Bartimaeus is filled with uncontainable enthusiasm even though, from the world’s perspective, he is an unfortunate, severely disabled beggar.
The difference is made by his faith in Jesus’ power. His faith in Jesus generates such enthusiasm that the crowd’s objection to his desire cannot dampen but, actually, increase it.
In the history of our discipleship, called to be missionaries of the Good News, we might find out that we are still living in a comfortable and leisure “Jericho.”
Or, without trying to dissuade people from going to Jesus, far from being enthusiastic about our closeness to him and about our role as missionaries, we might live from day to day without experiencing the needed inner stirring for our Lord.
Propelled by such stirring of the heart and driven by intense enthusiasm, although physically blind, Bartimaeus manages to go to Jesus and, with his sight restored, he follows him up the rugged and winding road to Jerusalem, undoubtedly with more resolve than is present in Jesus’ official disciples.
If, by any turn of events and negative circumstances, we find ourselves in the sizable crowd of onlookers, we now know that it is unconscionable for us to remain part of it.
In that amorphous crowd we could not even begin to carry out our mandate as missionaries because our bland lifestyle would be voided of any inspiring action and persuasive force.
If we find ourselves in the group of disciples hand-picked by Jesus, we know that we must ask the Holy Spirit to give us such inner stirring for Jesus and indomitable resolve that we are not easily discouraged by life’s adversities but can overcome hardships and severe challenges with full reliance on grace.
If, touched by grace, we decide to leave the amorphous crowd of observers and join the band of committed disciples; we can prepare ourselves for the mission ahead by making a donation, according to our financial means, to support the work of the missionaries already on the frontline in mission lands.
That financial contribution ought to be followed by a commitment to pray and to make little sacrifices, daily, for the spreading of the Good News far and wide.
The third step should be marked by sincere eagerness to get to know well the Father’s plan of salvation; to embrace it fully and live it every day wholeheartedly.
Our preaching the Good News will, then, be done with our lives and through the big and small choices that we make every day.
The effectiveness of our missionary activities will be in direct proportion to our enthusiasm and love for Jesus.
If we already identify with Bartimaeus, we know how blessed and privileged we truly are.
We shall thank Jesus for being everything for us; for being the source of our enthusiasm which, so clearly, makes our preaching effective and irresistible.