The autumn rolls on with the shortening days and changing colours. It is a time when everybody seems to be in their stride, working hard without the seasonal distractions of summer, now long gone, or winter with its celebrations, not yet in full view.
What does continue is that sense of mission. It may be that your parish used last month’s ‘Home Mission Day’ to focus on what is our mission as Catholics, and perhaps are using the resources that were distributed. The idea of ‘Home Mission’ may seem a little strange; surely missions are about taking the Gospel overseas to lands where it has not yet been heard and to peoples who do not know who Jesus Christ is? Well, there is still a need for overseas missions, perhaps even more than ever as populations grow and new generations have no knowledge of Jesus. Even in our own country we have many welcome visitors who are strangers to Christianity, and perhaps long to hear about the Spirit of God who can transform their own, often very difficult lives.
But there is also a mission to ‘home’. It is to those who have heard the message of love of the Gospel, but have forgotten it. The mission is to the many people in our increasingly secular society who have turned away from their faith, perhaps because they can’t see how it can provide fulfilment in their lives. Instead they look for fulfilment in short-term excitement, and in the achievement of goals that cannot last. Then there are some people who have been hurt by those who were there to guide and help. They will have needs still unmet, and hurt that needs to be healed. As much as we need to take the message of Christianity to those far away, we need to do as much to those who are close by.
To take on these tasks of spreading the Catholic Faith, we can no longer rely on past methods of evangelisation in spreading the ‘Good News’. In the past parishes trusted in the work of the missionary religious and lay people. They are still there and carry on good work and need our continuing support to meet the needs of people across the world. But for those who are nearby, in our parish, in our street, in our home; the mission, the new spreading of the Good News - the ‘New Evangelisation’ - relies on all of us to do what we can to reach out to where the message of Jesus Christ has not been heard, has been ignored, or has been rejected.
But where do we start? What are the methods and tools that we are to use? How we are going to undertake a task that we were not trained to do? It may seem difficult, may be even impossible. But we are not much different to those fishermen by the Sea of Galilee, or the many other disciples of Jesus Christ who heard what he taught, and then told others. And that is where we can start; to talk. To talk about our Faith wherever the opportunity arises; to make opportunities to introduce Jesus, and to talk about how we live our life as a Catholic. Talk to your children over meal times; ask them who provides nature for humanity to harness. Talk to your neighbour over the fence or your colleague over coffee; tell them about what you have been doing on Sunday, what you learnt at Mass, or what activities you are doing in your parish to reach out to others. Talk on the phone, talk through social media. And talk to God. In those quiet moments talk to him, and listen. For more information on Home Mission and resources see: http://www.catholicnews.org.uk/Home/Featured/Home-Mission-Sunday-2017
Deacon Adrian Cullen