Chapter Talk – Twelfth Sunday of the Year – June 25, 2023, cycle-A
Pope Francis calls ‘fear’ “one of the most terrible enemies of our Christian faith” (Angelus, June 21, 2020). This Sunday’s gospel (Mt 10:26-33) exhorts the disciples and exhorts us to ‘fear no one’. Jesus continues and says twice ‘Do not be afraid’. When we are in the grips of fear and are not aware of this ‘enemy of faith’ it can easily turn into hopelessness, despair even. Our interior attitude can turn sour with such thoughts as: ‘why bother, it is not worth it’. Or ‘I have nothing to give’, or ‘whatever I have to offer is never accepted any way’.
This gospel is part of a “missionary discourse” as the disciples are setting out to proclaim the reign of God. None of us may see ourselves as ‘missionaries’; and this is not the point of what Jesus is saying. We may go nowhere and still the evangelizing call is there, it is part of what being a Christian is. Pope Francis wrote: “I am a mission on this earth; that is the reason why I am here in this world. We have to regard ourselves as sealed, even branded, by this mission of bringing light, blessing, enlivening, raising up, healing and freeing” (Joy of the Gospel, p.132). It does not matter what our vocation is, what age we are, what work we do or not do, each of us is a ‘mission’ on this earth. As we are evangelized from within, we, in a natural organic way, bring light, blessing, enlivening wherever we are and whatever we do. To be evangelized means we are converted daily into the gospel way, into the mind and heart of Christ.
At the Annunciation we hear Mary saying to the Angel Gabriel: ‘I am a handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your word’. Do not these eternal words of Mary resonate for each of us? ‘I am your vessel of love, of mercy, of compassion…let it be done to me according to your word’. And we can say this in a different way: ‘I am a mission on this earth’…Both these prayer acclamations give purpose and meaning to our lives…these sacred words anchor our lives. They are ways of saying ‘yes’, this tiny word of profound faith. And, these words are a response to a ‘call’, the Divine call. To say ‘I am a mission on this earth’ right now connects us ever so deeply to the Divine promptings, to those silent tugs upon our heart.
To return to how I began in reflecting on today’s gospel, fear is front and center since it can cripple how we meet situations especially those where conflict is present…Living the gospel daily is a cross. It seems to me that if we stay connected to the Divine ‘call’, our fears will dissipate, they no longer will dominate our lives or stifle how we live our ‘mission’ now and into an unknown future.
‘Do not be afraid’ says Jesus. ‘Do not be afraid’…you are a mission on this earth, and I am with you…
Pope Francis gives this prayer evocation to conclude his Angelus talk: “May Mary Most Holy, model of trust and abandonment in God in the hour of adversity and danger, help us never to surrender to despair, but rather to entrust ourselves to Him and to his grace, because God’s grace is ever more powerful than evil” (Angelus, June 21, 2020).
Dear sisters, let us pray silently: ‘I am a mission on this earth’, ‘let it be done to me according to your word.’ Amen.
Sr. Kathy DeVico, Abbess