Dear friends. Today is Mission Sunday and for the homily this week I would like to share a few thoughts on St John Henry Newman’s wonderful reflection on vocation and mission. He is the newest saint of the Church, canonised by Pope Francis last Sunday. He was also a man who was ahead of his time in insisting that all the baptised are called and sent on mission where our faith becomes active and real.
‘God has created me to do Him some definite service’. God created me and you intentionally and blessed us with a unique set of gifts and talents that he wants us to use for some service or good. So never think that you are just a product of evolution or devoid of any gifts. You are wanted, willed and have gifts that are needed by others.
‘He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission’. No two vocations are the same. That’s why it’s so important for you and I to respond to his call because the good work that only I can do is left undone if I don’t do it. I have my mission, you have your mission. But together we are mission.
‘I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next’. Some of us struggle to understand that we have a vocation at all. So pray that your calling becomes clear and ask the Lord to reveal to you what he wants you to do.
‘I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons’. We are part of a team, a family in the Church. If we don’t take up our mission, the light of the whole body is dimmed. By being missionary disciples of Jesus Christ we are united to all those who have also been missionaries since Christ himself – the Apostles, St Paul, St Patrick, St Francis Xavier, St Brigid. This is the chain to which we are linked and united.
‘He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work. I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it if I do but keep His commandments’. Each of us matter and have been created for a purpose. Our mission is to do good, to do the Lord’s work in his name. We are called to be channels of peace, seekers of the truth and lovers of God’s commandments that he gave us out of love and to protect us from the slavery of sin.
‘Therefore, I will trust Him, whatever I am, I can never be thrown away’. Trust, trust and trust again. This is the essence of faith. Trust in his promise – ‘I will be with you always until the end of time’ (Matt. 28:20). Don’t let anyone dismiss you or reduce your dignity even if you suffer.
‘If I am in sickness, may my sickness may serve Him, in perplexity, may my perplexity may serve Him. If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him’. No matter how we are, young or old, healthy or well, rich or poor – let us offer it all to God and serve him in the way we can.
‘He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me. Still, He knows what He is about.’ Again, an invitation to trust, just like St John Henry Newman learned to trust in his lifetime amid many difficult times. Here the saint is speaking back to us and encouraging us never to lose sight of God’s providence that is at work at all times and through everything. Yes, he knows what he is about. God is in charge.
St John Henry Newman, thank you for your wonderful reflection on vocation and mission that inspires us on this World Day of Mission. Thank you Holy Spirit for inspiring it in the heart of this wonderful and newest saint of the Church. Father, together may we be people of mission who live our faith as joyful disciples of Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen’.