February 25, 2018, 9:48 am
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Heart of Christian faith

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.”

***

The opening five verses of Saint Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians comprise today’s Second Reading. Paul wrote this epistle, considered the earliest of all the New Testament books, around AD 50-51 when he was in Corinth. It is noteworthy that the three persons of the Trinity are named and the virtues of faith, hope, and love are all mentioned here [basics of our Christian faith].

Paul praises the Thessalonian Christians for their missionary zeal because they were “proving their faith, laboring in love, and showing constancy in hope.” He notes that the preaching of the gospel is not “a mere matter of words but one of power”; it is “carried on in the Holy Spirit and out of complete conviction.” 

This scripture reading seems most appropriate, since today is World Mission Sunday. In his mission message, “Mission at the Heart of the Christian Faith,” Pope Francis presents, for our reflection, ten pivotal insights on evangelization; the Pope’s reflections are summarized here—for our meditation and action.

(1) “The Church’s mission…is based on the transformative power of the Gospel. The Gospel is Good News filled with contagious joy, for it contains and offers new life…. That life sets us free from every kind of selfishness, and is a source of creativity in love.” 

(2) “God the Father desires… the transformation of his sons and daughters…[because] the glory of God is the living man.” Here Pope Francis recalls the oft-quoted saying of Saint Irenaeus: “The glory of God is [the people] fully alive.”

(3) “Through the mission of the Church, Jesus Christ himself continues to evangelize and act…. Through the proclamation of the Gospel, the risen Jesus becomes our contemporary, so that those who welcome him with faith and love can experience the transforming power of his Spirit.”

(4) Recalling the words of Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis writes that we must never forget that “being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a Person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”

(5) “The world vitally needs the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Through the Church, Christ continues his mission as the Good Samaritan, caring for the bleeding wounds of humanity, and as the Good Shepherd, constantly seeking out those who wander along winding paths that lead nowhere.”

(6) “The Church’s mission is enlivened by a spirituality of constant exodus. We are challenged ‘to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the peripheries in need of the light of the Gospel’ (Evangelii Gaudium n. 20).”

(7) “Mission reminds the Church that she is…a humble instrument and mediation of the Kingdom.”

(8) “Young people are the hope of mission…. They seek ways to put themselves with courage and enthusiasm at the service of humanity.” The Church seeks “to involve young people in the shared missionary responsibility that needs their rich imagination and creativity.”

(9) “The Pontifical Mission Societies are a precious means of awakening in every Christian community a desire to reach beyond its own confines and security in order to proclaim the Gospel to all.”

(10) “Dear brothers and sisters, in carrying out our mission, let us draw inspiration from Mary, Mother of Evangelization…. May the Virgin Mother help us to say our own ‘yes,’ conscious of the urgent need to make the Good News of Jesus resound in our time.”

***

– Fr. James H. Kroeger, MM
– (Oct. 22, 2017)
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