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MISSION TO THE PEOPLES
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Sunday, World Mission Sunday, October 21, 2012
Isa. 60:1-6, Rom. 10:9-18, Matt. 28:16-20


"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (Matt. 28:19-20).


Today is world mission Sunday. Jesus gave a great commission to his apostles to go to all the peoples of the world, to every culture, and preach the gospel in all languages; and not only preach to them, but make them disciples, baptize them, and teach them all that he had taught his disciples. This requires that they and their successors cross from one culture to another to preach to them the gospel of God's salvation in Jesus Christ for all who believe in him. Not everyone has the gift to do this; but some have received this call from God and this gift of the Holy Spirit to leave their own people, culture, and language, and go to another people, learn their language, and live among them to preach Christ to them for their repentance, conversion, and salvation.


Those who have this calling are foreign missionaries. This is a distinct vocation in the Church. Although every Christian has a mission, these have the vocation to go to another people and culture that has not yet heard the gospel and is not yet Christian. These foreign missionaries exercise this international cross-cultural mission in the name of the whole Church. The whole Church should therefore support them in their work. Those who cannot go to other peoples should help those who in the name of the whole Church exercise this vocation.


Christ wants the gospel to be preached to the whole world, to every person in his own language. "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nations" (Matt. 24:14). "Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her" (Matt. 26:13). "The gospel which you heard ... has been preached to every creature under heaven" (Col. 1:23).


When we preach the gospel to the whole creation, we create Eucharistic communities that hear the word of God, confess their sins in the sacrament of reconciliation (John 20:23), and offer the sacrifice of Christ on the cross to the Father, the sacrifice that saves all who believe in Christ.


St. Paul says that Christ was sent into the world by the Father to reconcile all things to the Father, "making peace by the blood of his cross" (Col. 1:20). Christ reconciles all who believe in him with the Father "in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him" (Col. 1:22). And we are witnesses of this among the peoples. This is the missionary vocation. "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8).


"Christ died for our sins" (1 Cor. 15:3) to reconcile all who believe in him with the Father. In reconciling us to the Father through his death he is "making peace by the blood of his cross" (Col. 1:22). This reconciliation took place "in his body of flesh by his death" (Col. 1:22). By his death as a criminal on the cross the Son of God absorbed into his own flesh the curse of the law for our sins (Gal. 3:13). He suffered this curse on the cross instead of us to free us from this curse, which is death. Thus in his body of flesh Christ reconciled us through his death. We therefore proclaim to the ends of the earth the blood of the cross of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. We preach to the peoples freedom from the curse of the law, which is eternal death (Rom. 6:23), and the gift of everlasting life through "the blood of his cross ... in his body of flesh by his death" (Col. 1:20, 22).


This is a liberating message. It frees us from sin and the pain of guilt, especially through the sacrament of reconciliation (John 20:23). Christ took our part. Our part was death for our sins (Rom. 6:23); and so he died instead of us for our sins (1 Cor. 15:3). It was necessary that "Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things" (Luke 24:46-48). Christ paid the price for our sins in his poured-out blood on the cross, giving "his life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45). This is why he poured out his blood and instituted the Eucharist in which he said, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Matt. 26:28).


The missionary proclaims this good news, this gospel, in new languages to new peoples and cultures which have not yet heard it. We announce the forgiveness of sins and the justification of all who believe in Christ. And through baptism and the Eucharist we offer them a new life in God, and God's life in them. We say to them with St. Paul, "Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses" (Acts 13:38-39 NKJV).


This message frees us from guilt caused by sin. We know that we cannot justify ourselves through our own good works (Gal. 2:16). We have discovered that this is not possible. And now we announce what no one knows until he hears of Christ-that God has sent us a Savior to justify us. He justifies us through his death for our sins and his resurrection. He "was put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification" (Rom. 4:25). So "if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in our heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Rom. 10:9-10 NKJV). Therefore it is necessary "that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things" (Luke 24:47-48).


So then "‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.' How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?" (Rom. 10:13-15 NKJV). Therefore there are foreign missionaries who are sent to preach the gospel among non-Christian peoples for their eternal salvation and for a new life in God and peace with him in the present for all who believe.

 

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