Mission Society of the Philippines

Homilies

17th Sunday C, Filipino Mission Sunday 2019

A story was once told about a Catholic missionary priest working in Africa. While he was walking on an Easter Sunday, he heard the warning and threatening padding of a lion behind him. When he saw the lion, he prayed… “O Lord, spare me and help me. Grant in Thy goodness that the lion walking behind me is a good Christian lion.” And then, a silence followed. Then, the missionary priest heard the lion praying too, “O Lord, I thank You for the food which I am about to receive from thy goodness. Amen.”

I share this missionary anecdote to you because today is the Filipino Mission Sunday. In this celebration, we remember our very own Filipino missionaries, particularly the members of Mission Society of the Philippines (MSP). The MSP is founded by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines in the year 1965 during the 4th centennial celebration of the formal Christianization of our country as an expression of our living memorial of gratitude to God for the gift of faith we received. It is also our expression of thanksgiving for becoming a Christian nation. As such the MSP is the official missionary arm of the Catholic Church of the Philippines. The MSP missionaries are being sent to different parts of the world in order to proclaim the gospel, to help the young churches, and look after the Filipino migrants. In this celebration, we support the MSP missionaries through prayers, and also, we give them vocational, promotional and material support.

Being a missionary is not easy. It is filled with challenges and difficulties. We (MSP missionaries) offer our life for the mission entrusted to us Filipinos. This is the reason why we ask for your prayer and support. Prayer is very important and powerful. Like in our readings for this Sunday, God reveals Himself as the “God who communicates”. Our God is inviting us to commune with Him through constant prayer and to address Him in a very personal way as our own ‘Abba-Father’. 

In the First Reading (Genesis), Abraham was pleading with God to spare Sodom and Gomorrah. We could learn from this story the importance of praying for others and the power of intercession. We could see also here the intention of God like a ‘Father’ who gathers his scattered and sinful children. However, Abraham did not call God as ‘Abba – Father,’ but instead called Him ‘Lord’ in order to be prudent and not to be brazen and impudent. In the Jewish culture, people cannot address ‘God’ by His name. This is the reason why they address God as ‘Yahweh’ or ‘Elohim’. Hence, the Old Testament people, the way they relate God have always a mediator or intercessor. We have realized also in the first reading that God wanted His children to go back to Him, like a caring Father, in spite of their sinfulness. This relationship between God and people is brought to fulfillment through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Jesus, we are able to know God as our Father. 

In the gospel today, the evangelist Luke presents Jesus as prayerful and always in communion with the Father. Jesus taught His disciples how to be in communion with the Father by teaching the ‘Lord’s prayer’ or the ‘Our Father’. Jesus meant to show to us the childlike trust we should have in prayer, no matter how old or sophisticated we might be. No wonder Jesus had such concern for little children. Children can teach us the complete trust we must have in God; the absolute reliance on Him; the tender, loving affection that should be ours. The Gospel assures us: “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Lk 11:9-10). Hence, this Father-child relationship must be expressed also into our brothers and sisters by extending God’s care and love. In other words, ang ating DASAL ay magdudulot ng magandang ASAL

In conclusion, St. Paul, in the Second Reading, speaks about baptism and he says further, “God gave you a new life in company of Christ.” In Baptism, God truly became our Father. He gave a share in the same life that his divine Son possesses in fullness from all eternity. And so, when we pray, God sees in us the person of Jesus, and He can say of us, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”

Fr. Ryan Jay Aban, MSP

MSP Seminary Tagaytay

 


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