Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 16, 2016
Fr. José Maria Alvim Cortes, F.S.C.B.
Sunday Reading Meditations
Today’s Gospel ends with Jesus’ mysterious words: “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Lk 18:8).
As we celebrate World Mission Sunday, what Jesus is saying here is really relevant. The mission of the Church is to spread the faith. It is something that has still not been fully accomplished. The Church’s mission is always unfinished. In every generation, every disciple of Jesus has to listen to his words: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Mt 28:19–20).
When we look at the history of the Church, we see moments of great missionary ardor as well as periods of a decline in the passion to proclaim Jesus Christ. We have some examples: the first generations of Christians, then the monks who evangelized Europe and created Christian civilization, then friars such as the Franciscans and Dominicans who brought the gospel to the cities at the end of the Middle Ages, and later the Jesuits who went to the New World and Far East, and the many missionary institutes in the nineteenth century that brought the faith to countries in Africa and Asia.
Unfortunately, there were also periods in history when missionary intensity declined, moments when the Church looked at itself as an organization instead of looking outside and welcoming Jesus’ mandate to go to all nations. Without a missionary spirit, the Church stagnates.
Today’s first reading helps us understand the mission of the Church. Israel is being attacked by the Amalekites. Joshua has to engage them in battle and Moses goes to the top of a hill to pray. When Moses has his hands raised, Israel has the better of the fight but when Moses grows tired and lets his hands down, Amalek has the advantage.
The most important thing is our union with God. This is the source of our strength. Joshua only becomes able to accomplish his mission through Moses’ intimacy with God. This mission starts on the top of the hill and then develops on the plain. The heart of the mission is always a community that is centered in God.
A contemplative Church is a missionary Church. Saint Paul, the greatest missionary of all times, says in the Letter to the Corinthians: “For Christ’s love compels us” (2 Cor 5:14). It is Jesus’ love that compels us, that brings us from the top of the hill to the plain and then from the plain back to the top of the hill again.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus insists on the absolute necessity of praying. Moses grew tired of keeping his arms raised. Many times in the life of the Church and in our personal lives, there is the temptation to allow our fatigue to conquer our vigilance, which leads to our defeat and that of our community. Let us not be tempted by the forces that prevent us from keeping our arms raised.
To keep the missionary spirit alive depends on all of us. “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Lk 18:18). Each one of us is responsible for answering this question. There will be faith on earth if each one of us keeps its flame alive in our hearts. Jesus is coming now, not only at the end of times. He is already with us but it is up to us to recognize his presence.
Today, let us pray especially for an increase in the missionary spirit of the Church. Let us pray for all those who are waiting for the proclamation of the gospel. Let us also pray for all men and women who dedicate their lives to the missions. May Our Lady obtain for them the strength and the joy to announce Jesus Christ to the peoples who do not know him yet. Amen.
Sunday Reading Meditations