8 May 2008. Thursday of the 7th Week of Easter
Acts 22,30, 23:6-11; Psalm 16; John 17, 20-26
The readings talk about safety for missionaries. First, the missionary might experience grave threats to their lives: Paul is an example. In the first reading, Paul is set to trial at the Sanhedrin’s court in Jerusalem. In the process, the Sadducees and the Pharisees fought about their differences in their beliefs. The Sadducees do not believe in the Resurrection while the Pharisees contended in Paul’s favor. The Roman commander had to remove Paul finally from their midst. The Lord then appears, a consoling vision for Paul, and a milestone in Luke’s story: the testimony of Paul in Jerusalem has ended, and Paul’s mission in Rome comes into view. The end of the Jerusalem mission and the new Roman mission are all viewed as necessary in the plan of God. Second, Jesus prays for the protection of his people. And the Responsorial Psalm is the prayer itself: “Keep me safe, O God, you are my hope.”
Many men and women today still risk their lives for the sake of the Gospel. Two mormon missionaries were killed in a head-on automobile collision in New Zealand. Despite China’s ban on missionaries, the zealous still throng to China especially in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. They would like to talk about faith to people one on one (see article). The Catholic Youth for Christ (YFC) sends missionaries abroad. Safety is a legitimate concern; though we are indeed evangelizing, we also have to take care of our lives. Without our bodies, there will be no instrument for preaching.
Pope Benedict XVI recently urged Catholics in his US visit to renew their missionary zeal when our global society is at a ‘moral crossroad.’ The pope warned against the breakdown of the foundations of society. The message that we have to convey would therefore be a message of hope and faithfulness to the demands of the Gospel.
Today, young people are pressured by their peers. Often, religious persons are ridiculed because they are not the contemporary kid’s idea of being ‘cool’. People are not expressive anymore of their faith. They would rather hide than wear it on their sleeves. In the midst of a moral dilemma, such as graft and corruption in the workplace, many would rather keep quiet than lose their jobs. But not without reason: their family is dependent on them.
What does this mean in our personal lives? To be children of hope means never to stop trying in the midst of helplessness. At difficult times, a Christian never says die. When a plan fails, a Christian will think of alternatives. When a person meets a tragedy in their lives, the Christian becomes a consoler, someone who would put his arms around their shoulders. The Christian can move freely in the world with a smile: not that crazy scheming smile, but that smile that is peaceful and moving. He or she will have a sense of humor that makes people forget their problems even temporarily. For fear of being cheezy: a smile is our every day sign of hope. We do can proclaim the Gospel by just a smile (but I hope we do more than just stretch our lips).