In the Gospel for this Mass we heard so-called the Little Commission from the beginnings of Jesus’ ministry when Our Blessed Lord sent his Apostles to towns and villages of the Holy Land.
My Dear Sisters and Brothers! The Little Commission tends to be overlooked, maybe because of its limited scope. However both Commissions complement each other. It is like with our sight: neither farsightedness, when you see distant objects clearly, but objects nearby are blurry, nor nearsightedness when you see objects clearly, but objects farther away are blurry, is optimal. The same is with our Church. The Church cannot be only for missionary farsightedness. The Church cannot be only for missionary nearsightedness either. As both commissions from the Gospel are valid and urgent as both Church missions: foreign and domestic are valid and urgent.
We have had in our Church women and men who from their home country saw the needs of far way people and thus committed themselves to take the Gospel out there. We have had also in our Church men and women who were captivated and affected by the desolation of their compatriots and thus committed themselves to plant the Good News in their own community. Can we say that one calling is more important than the other? Both callings are valid and urgent. Both callings are like one heart made of two sides. Both sides need to work.
In the nineteenth century a young Carmelite nun, St Therese of the Child Jesus, wrote: ‘I knew that the Church had a heart and that such a heart appeared to be aflame with love. I knew that one love drove the members of the Church to action.’
In our own time the Holy Spirit, the Spirit who is Love of the Father and the Son, calls us to have one heart and one soul. Whether we discover a loving call to go to faraway places or to minister to the people close by we are one heart and one soul. We also need to hear each other so that from that hearing we can enrich our mission.
How can the Great Commission be enriched by the Little Commission? For example by the method Jesus implemented when he sent his Apostles in pair. In this way his disciples were not some propagators or activists. They were Christ bringers. Can you remember Jesus’ words: ‘Where two or three are gathered in my name there I am with them’? The strength of the Apostles on their first mission was not in their oratorical skills but in their small communities which were faith filled and faith inspired. The importance of a small community for mission was appreciated by the great Apostle of the nations, St Paul, who travelled the world to preach the Gospel not on his own but in company of a fellow Christian or fellow Christians.
My Dear Fellow believers! If we speak about the Small and Great Commissions complementing each other we cannot forget the First Commission which can be found in the Book of Genesis: ‘Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and conquer it. Be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven and all living animals on the earth.’ That Commission was given to our first parents, to the first man and the first woman. The holy relationship of a man and a woman, which we call a marriage, is still the foundational and exemplary vision for the mission of the Church. It is not about an ideology but it is about life. The Church’s mission, whether it is about faraway places or the one’s own people, is all about giving life. The life is generated when people who love God gather together to share it with each other, to celebrate it and thus to experience the life-giving presence of Jesus Christ in their midst. Then the life of Christ they experience overflows outside in foreign places and in domestic places.
As a missionary who came to Australia I cannot imagine my ministry without my fellow Missionary Oblates of Marry Immaculate. Despite the shortage of vocations I believe we cannot compromise our community focus. However I am strengthened in my faith and ministry when I meet a holy marriage of a woman and man who live faithfully their conjugal relationship as a mission.